US Supreme Court Denies Arkansas Request to Begin Executions

Apr 21, 2017, 22:59
US Supreme Court Denies Arkansas Request to Begin Executions

A federal judge issued stays for each of the inmates Saturday and a state court judge on Friday blocked prison officials from using a paralyzing drug until he could determine whether Arkansas obtained it properly.

Protesters marched outside the governor's mansion Monday.

Two death row killers have been given stays of execution by judges in the U.S. state of Arkansas.

In another case, Baker cancelled an April 18 hearing in which the lawyers for Marcel Williams, who is scheduled to be executed April 24, meant to argue that because of his obesity, Arkansas' lethal injection protocol is not likely to kill him and could cause organ damage.

Bruce Ward and Don Davis had originally been the first of eight Arkansas inmates scheduled to die within 11 days of each other.

Lawyers for Davis and Ward argue the two did not have adequate access to independent mental health experts at trial.

In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he's disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay. In a victory for the state Sunday, a federal judge in western Arkansas denied a stay request by Davis.

The state has appealed both rulings and asked the higher courts to work quickly to review the decisions.

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Braden said Ward is schizophrenic and Davis has organic brain damage and is intellectually disabled. In Monday's dizzying legal drama, both rulings were reversed, which could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.

Arkansas said it would go ahead with its plans to execute the remaining six inmates on its current eight-man roster by carrying out dual executions on Thursday, April 24 and April 27.

A medical supply company come forward to state that Arkansas had misled them said it had misled them by stating that the drug would be used for medical purposes, not executions.

"The families have waited far too long to see justice, and I will continue to make that a priority", Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said late Monday. The canceled execution of a condemned prisoner here was a significant setback for the state, which had sought to put eight men to death this month, before its stock of a lethal injection drug expired.

Hutchinson suggested he had little choice: With Arkansas' midazolam supply set to expire at the end of this month, the authorities did not believe they would be able to restock it easily, effectively imposing a moratorium on the death penalty. The State Supreme Court also referred Griffen to the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. A pharmaceutical supplier alleges that the state bought the drug deceptively, actively misleading the seller about what it would be used for. The company "is committed to ensuring that its property is only used in a manner consistent with our supplier agreement", the statement noted. States around the country have struggled to obtain execution drugs over the last few years because of drug shortages and pressure from anti-death penalty groups, and the governor said he was unsure whether the state could refresh its supply. The order by the three judge panel lifts the stay by U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker that was issued over the weekend.

It takes five votes to get most things done at the court, including imposing or lifting a stay of execution.

The sedative has been used in botched executions, and some medical experts have claimed it is not proven to be effective, thus exposing an inmate to the risk of severe pain as the other drugs are administered.