Arkansas prepping for lethal injections despite halt from courts

Arkansas prepping for lethal injections despite halt from courts

The lawyers contend that the cocktail of drugs that the state plans to use will cause "unconstitutional pain, suffering and torture" if the midazolam does not work as planned. The director of the Department of Corrections was so concerned at the shortage of volunteers that she asked the Little Rock Rotary Club if it could provide some.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is a low-key former prosecutor known for delving into policy issues, but he's putting himself and his state at the center of the national debate over the death penalty. The San Francisco-based firm said Baker's ruling removed the imminent danger of the drugs being used for 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".

"At this juncture, plaintiffs have failed to present a persuasive case for the proposition that source knowledge is necessary to mount a meaningful, much less comprehensive, challenge to Ohio's execution protocol", U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost wrote in his 2015 ruling upholding Ohio's drug secrecy efforts.

If court proceedings are pushed into May, officials won't be able to carry out the executions with the drugs they have on hand.

The state was prepared to execute the men in an 11-day span starting Monday, a move that drew rebuke from death penalty opponents who said it was cruel and unusual punishment, and increased the likelihood of a botched execution.

Don Davis and Bruce Ward, originally scheduled for execution Monday night, received stays from the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday afternoon that prevents their lethal injection.

The ruling by a federal court in Little Rock threatens that plan, as did an order on Friday by an Arkansas state judge. Lawyers for the inmates had raised questions about their mental competency.

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Judge Wendell Griffen portrays a prisoner on a gurney during a protest against executions in front of the governor's mansion in Little Rock, Ark. on April 14, 2017.

Defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, who represents three of the men the state is looking to execute, argues Arkansas' rush to complete the executions is unconstitutional and "reeks of an assembly line". 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. The attorney general's office has said it will appeal those decisions.

"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".

"We do not require people to come into court with blank slates, either in their minds or their heart", he said Saturday. Death penalty critics have cited the case as a reason to oppose capital punishment. He ran twice unsuccessfully for state Supreme Court - including a bid for chief justice in 2004.

The eighth Circuit could take up the appeal of Judge Baker's order at any time.

But Rutledge and her staff of more than 70 attorneys worked all day Saturday to overturn those decisions and the state has filed an appeal for each one.

Arkansas hasn't executed anybody for more than a decade, partly because of a series of legal challenges to the state's death penalty laws.

Witnesses said Alabama death row inmate Ronald Bert Smith moved around on the gurney for approximately 13 minutes after he was given midazolam during his execution a year ago.

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