Arkansas Fights On Multiple Legal Fronts To Begin Executions
Arkansas Fights On Multiple Legal Fronts To Begin Executions
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18 April, 2017, 03:02
On Sunday, a federal judge in western Arkansas rejected a separate stay request from death row inmate Don Davis, who was originally scheduled to be put to death Monday.
Lawyers for the USA state of Arkansas have vowed to overturn court orders preventing them from beginning an unprecedented series of executions this week.
As the legal battle plays out, the state's execution facility is prepared for a rapid reversal of the decisions.
The state still must overcome other court orders blocking the inmates' executions if it is to carry out any of the lethal injections it had scheduled for the last two weeks of April.
This fast-paced schedule of executions was planned in order to beat the expiration date on its batch of one of the drugs used in its lethal injection cocktail. That order remains in place.
Depp was asked what he would say to Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas governor.
In a ruling, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker stated that even at high doses midazolam may not ensure the inmates are fully unconscious, the New York Times reported.
The case involving the drug was reassigned to another judge shortly after the Supreme Court issued its order Monday.
In Glossip, the Supreme Court said a federal court did not commit clear error when it found no substantial risk of severe pain from use of the drug midazolam.
Writing in a dissent, Associate Justice Shawn Womack lamented the court's ruling.
A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had no immediate comment on the court's ruling. The high court did not cite any reason for the stay.
Critics of the execution plan say midazolam, a sedative that is meant to mask the effects of drugs that will shut down the inmates' lungs and hearts, is unsuitable because it is not a painkiller and could subject them to a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. constitution.
Arkansas' supply of one key execution drug expires April 30.
It's also appealing Griffen's order that the prison system not use a paralyzing drug until he could determine whether the state obtained it properly.
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A federal USA district judge put a stop to Arkansas' controversial plan to execute seven inmates in only 11 days.
Also unclear is whether the secrecy will make it easier long-term to obtain the lethal drugs needed, as states hope. Griffen participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration after issuing the ruling Friday. Local media outlets had tweeted photos and video of Griffen appearing to mimic an inmate strapped to a gurney at the demonstration. The judge says he's morally opposed to the death penalty, but that his beliefs shouldn't prevent him from taking up certain cases. He ran twice unsuccessfully for state Supreme Court - including a bid for chief justice in 2004.
Ward was convicted of killing a convenience store clerk.
"138 people have been released from death row in the U.S. following a review of their convictions, it is something which has been used to kill innocent people in the past".
As for the second prong, Baker said federal appeals courts had developed different definitions of available alternatives.
On Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court halted Ward's execution after lawyers for the inmate argued he was mentally incompetent.
The Arkansas Department of Correction is still planning as if at least one execution will happen.
In a friend of the court brief filed Thursday, appended to a lawsuit by the inmates aimed at halting the executions, the companies said they sell the drugs to wholesale distributors that agree to distribute only to hospitals and medical facilities. 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".
The state of Arkansas appealed and has asked for a quick decision.
The 8th Circuit could take up the appeal of Baker's order at any time.
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.
"The people of the United States have spoken out against this horrific conveyer belt of death and we are relieved that the judge has temporarily stopped these executions".
The lawyers said it was wrong for her to decide the inmates "did not establish a significant possibility of success on the merits on their claim that the compressed execution schedule is contrary to the evolving standards of decency". The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments on April 24.
If court proceedings are pushed into May, officials won't be able to carry out the executions with the drugs they have on hand.
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