Arkansas inmates scheduled for execution ask court to review

Justin Greene
April 18, 2017

Judge Baker embraced arguments by the eight prisoners whose executions had been scheduled, plus one other death row inmate, that the state's reliance on midazolam, as an execution drug posed a risk to their constitutional rights. In the case of lethal injections, the drug was used as part of a cocktail, and in some cases, replaced sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, Newsweek reported.

The Arkansas court said four of its seven justices agreed to keep the stay in place.

"State prosecutors also contended that Griffen's personal blog showed bias toward death-penalty protesters: "(The state) plans to use medication designed for treating and healing disease to kill men", they say he wrote. A media advocacy group and the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked Missouri's highest court to settle whether the state's prison system must reveal its execution drugs.

Midazolam has a controversial history, having been linked to a number of botched executions where an inmate, improperly sedated to the effects of the other drugs in their lethal injection, took almost an hour to die. The state high court additionally asked a disciplinary panel to consider whether Griffen violated the judicial code of conduct, which could lead to his dismissal as a judge.

Lawyers for the state have appeals pending before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court. After issuing the order, Griffen participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration where he was strapped to a cot.

On Sunday night, another federal judge, Susan Hickey, denied separate motions for a stay filed on behalf of the other inmate scheduled to die on Monday, Don Davis.

In a response filed with the court late on Saturday, State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that all of the issues raised by the condemned inmates had been previously and litigated.


Arkansas had planned eight executions before the end of April, when its midazolam supply expires.

Numerous executions have been placed in legal limbo in recent years after challenges based on the source of the drugs.

A member of the United Methodist Church, Copley has been an outspoken critic of the death penalty and had attended a rally that day, in which the actor Johnny Depp joined hundreds at the Arkansas state Capitol calling on Hutchinson to halt the executions, when he learned about Griffen's ruling.

Victoria price is live near the cummins unit in grady with more on the legal proceedings- and how the state department of corrections is preparing in case there are any changes made throughout the day.

On Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court halted Ward's execution after lawyers for the inmate argued he was mentally incompetent. But U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued stays Saturday so the inmates could pursue a claim that they could suffer "severe pain". In a filing early Monday, the inmates' lawyers say the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should avoid a "rushed analysis".

Hutchinson said he would prefer to extend the period but that the state might not be able to find another drug to follow out the executions.

But the states argued that the difficulty didn't come from problems revealed in the drugs' handling, but from public protests directed at manufacturers and suppliers for assisting executions. "We are calling on state officials to accept the federal court's decision, cancel the frantic execution schedule, and propose a legal and humane method to carry out its executions". The Arkansas Department of Correction's supply of midazolam, one of three drugs in the state's lethal-injection protocol, expires April 30.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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