Judge halts Arkansas plan to execute 8 inmates in 11 days

Asa Hutchinson

Asa Hutchinson

The ruling by a federal court in Little Rock threatens that plan, as did an order on Friday by an Arkansas state judge.

A spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said even if the Arkansas Supreme Court vacates Griffen's temporary restraining order, Arkansas would still be barred from executing inmates because of Baker's Saturday ruling.

For the time being, Arkansas is going ahead with the preparations for the executions, two of which are scheduled for Monday. "I expect both the Supreme Court of Arkansas and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decisions quickly, and I have confidence in the Attorney General and her team to expedite the reviews".

Hutchinson put the execution spree into play because one of the drugs used for executions, Midazolam, is set to expire at the end of April, the BBC reports.

The state's mixture of drugs used in executions has brought legal challenges, and Baker's ruling on Saturday also raised questions about whether one of them, midazolam, was effective enough at preventing pain during executions.

This photo provided by Sherry Simon shows Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen taking part of an anti-death penalty demonstration outside the Governor's Mansion Friday, April 14, 2017 in Little Rock, Ark. She could ask either the state court or the U.S. Supreme Court for the review.

Lawyers for the inmates challenged the use of midazolam, which was involved in flawed executions elsewhere, as well as the shortened timeframe. The inmates say midazolam is unsuitable as an execution drug, saying it is not a painkiller and could subject them to a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The inmates are challenging the planned execution method, and claim that the scheduling of back-to-back executions widen the probability of potential mistakes.

The medical supply company has said ADC purchased the drug, believing it would be used for medical purposes only.

On Friday, Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen, an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, issued an order on Friday blocking the state from using vecuronium bromide after a petition from its maker, McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc. The drug company said Baker's ruling addresses their concerns about the vercurium bromide being used in executions, and the temporary restraining order issued on Friday is no longer needed at this time.

In February, Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled the executions of eight men over an 11-day span in April.

The company that asked Griffen to act, McKesson Corp., sought to drop its lawsuit after U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued her stays on Saturday.

McKesson said it's considering legal action to get the drug back.

Baker, dealt another blow Saturday, April 15, 2017, to Arkansas' unprecedented plan to execute eight inmates in an 11-day period, saying the men have the right to challenge a drug protocol that could expose them to "severe pain". A state judge earlier Friday blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug, a move that could also halt the executions altogether.

She also requested the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverse its stay on the executions. Arkansas hasn't carried out a double execution since 1999. Since then, two of the inmates received court stays, one of which was issued Friday.

Name SearchWatch Service' Bruce Ward, who was scheduled to be put to death on Monday night for the 1989 death of a woman found strangled in the men's room of the Little Rock convenience store where she worked. DeMillo reported from Little Rock.

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