Arkansas Judge Blocks State From Using Drug For Lethal Injections
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray sided with the company, and blocked the use of the drug in executions.
On Wednesday, a state circuit judge blocked the use of another of the drugs Arkansas acquired for lethal injections, after us pharmaceutical wholesaler McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc accused the state of obtaining the muscle relaxant vecuronium bromide under false pretences.
Lawyers for the state of Arkansas have started their appeal of a decision that would prevent its executioners from using one of the three drugs in its lethal injection protocol.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson had set an aggressive schedule of eight executions by the end of April, when the state's supply of midazolam, a key lethal injection drug, expires.
Arkansas officials are vowing to press ahead with the Thursday executions despite the setback to plans to resume capital punishment after a 12-year hiatus. Despite the secrecy measure, prison officials have said it will be very hard to find a supplier willing to sell Arkansas midazolam after its current stock expires.
The executions of Davis and Bruce Ward were supposed to be the first two, but Ward received a stay from the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday and the state did not appeal the decision. Answers to death penalty queries.
A pair of death-row inmates scheduled for lethal injection Thursday evening have been transferred to the Cummins Unit, the location of the state's execution chamber, a prisons spokesman said Wednesday.
A death row inmate scheduled to be executed in an Arkansas prison today has been granted a stay by the highest court in the USA state hours before his lethal injection, his attorneys said.
McKesson had originally sued Arkansas last week in state court, but withdrew that action when a federal court on Saturday issued stays that temporarily halted the executions of the eight inmates.
Justices on Thursday rejected a stay request from Ledell Lee.
While both of Wednesday's rulings could be overturned, Arkansas now faces an uphill battle to execute any inmates before the end of April, when another of its drugs expires.
"McKesson was duped. into providing the drugs", lawyer John Tull argued.
Two more inmates, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, are scheduled to die on April 24, while Kenneth Williams is slated for execution on April 27. Their one-paragraph order did not elaborate on why. A favorable Supreme Court ruling would likely cancel these men's death sentence for the foreseeable future because the state would not have any more of the drug that could be used after April 30. That issue is headed back to the court, with the state planning to appeal an identical restraining order from another judge regarding the state's supply of the drug.
Separate from the inmates' legal challenges, a handful of drug companies are saying they don't want their products used in the executions. Attorneys for the inmate filed a request Wednesday for a stay with the state's highest court.
"Mr. Lee has never had the opportunity to have his case truly investigated, despite serious questions about guilt, and his intellectual disability", Lee's attorney, Cassandra Stubbs, said. "It is inconceivable that this court, with the facts and the law well established, stays these executions over speculation that the (U.S.) Supreme Court might change the law".