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News Worms


Arkansas fights on multiple legal fronts to begin executions

Arkansas fights on multiple legal fronts to begin executions

The ruling came down on Saturday, as Judge Kristine Baker chose to halt the executions due to concerns over the drugs the state planned to use.

Earlier in the day, Rutledge's office also filed an emergency petition seeking to have the Arkansas Supreme Court throw out the restraining order issued Friday evening by Griffen in a lawsuit filed Friday by McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc., a DE drug company.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson had scheduled the executions to take place before the state's supply of one of its lethal injection drugs expires at the end of the month.

Griffen declined to comment on the demonstration or his ruling, saying he'd address any questions about it at a hearing he scheduled for Tuesday.

Judd Deere, a spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said Griffen should not have heard the case at all. Crowds gather at a rally opposing Arkansas' upcoming executions, which are set to begin next week, on the front steps of the Capitol Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed an appeal of the ruling on Saturday night with the 8th Circuit Court, which has already ruled on similar cases previously and allowed the executions to go forward.

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

Arkansas's governor, who scheduled the executions and told the Department of Corrections to assume the court's decisions will be reversed, identifies as a Southern Baptist.

There are at least five lawsuits that could prevent Monday's scheduled executions from actually happening.

"It is unfortunate that a US district judge has chosen to side with the convicted prisoners in one of their many last-minute attempts to delay justice", said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the office.

"The unnecessarily compressed execution schedule using the risky drug midazolam denies prisoners their right to be free from the risk of torture", said lawyer John C. Williams.

State and federal rulings have blocked the state's plan to execute eight inmates before its supply of a lethal injection drug expires at the end of April. If court proceedings are pushed into May, Arkansas won't be able to carry out the executions with the drugs it has on hand.

Earlier Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court also blocked the execution of Bruce Ward. Griffen issued a temporary restraining order Friday blocking the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide after a company said it had sold the drug to the state for medical purposes, not capital punishment.

The six prisoners still facing execution - Davis, Stacey Johnson, Ledell Lee, Jack Jones Jr., Marcel Williams and Kenneth Williams - likely learned about the reprieves from the televisions in their solitary cells, said Lee Short, an attorney for Lee.

The bigger problem, Baker's opinion says, is a prison policy that prohibits more than one of the inmates' attorneys from witnessing the executions.

While regular church services were planned for the holiday, many residents in the capital had been also expecting to attend a special vigil for the condemned later Sunday evening at Little Rock's Trinity Cathedral - which was supposed conclude with a march to the governor's mansion. They called on him to recuse from further execution cases and demanded that he be punished for joining the protests. Trent Garner quickly criticized Griffen's protest.

"Don't let liberal lawyers & judges, washed-up celebrities, & politically correct Big Pharma steal justice from murder victims' families!"

Arkansas Republicans including U.S. Sen.

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