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April 17, 2017

Lots of litigation leading to lots of uncertainty as Arkansas execution dates arrive

This CNN article, headlined "Arkansas inmate has last meal as courts decide fate," reports on some of the still-in-development litigation in the Natural State as it tries to get its machinery of death operational. Here are the highlights:

After the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the execution of two inmates, the state's attorney general asked the US Supreme Court to overturn the ruling so the execution of one could proceed.

While Bruce Ward has one other stay in place, Don Davis -- who had his last meal -- could be the first executed over the next 10 days if Attorney General Leslie Rutledge prevails with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Amid the flurry, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Saturday ruling by a federal judge that temporarily halted all eight executions.

That U.S. District Court judge had ruled that the prisoners will likely succeed in demonstrating the state's proposed method of lethal injection is unconstitutional. But the appeals court said the use of the method of execution, which includes the drug, midazolam, did not create undue severe pain.

The executions were set for this month because Arkansas' supply of midazolam expires on May 1.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statement Monday evening that said, in part, "We have asked the US Supreme Court and hope to get a decision later tonight."

The attorney for Davis and Ward requested stays of execution until the US Supreme Court rules on an upcoming case concerning inmate access to independent mental health experts. The justices are set to hold oral arguments on April 24....

Late Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court also overturned a temporary restraining order, issued by a state judge, that prevented Arkansas from using vecuronium bromide it had purchased from McKesson Medical-Surgical in executions. The company had argued the medication was not meant to be used in capital punishment.

The Arkansas Supreme Court had already blocked Ward's execution due to questions about his mental competency. As of Monday evening, that stay remained.

As officials awaited further court action, Davis had his "last meal" at the Cummins Unit, where the execution chamber is located. According to the Arkansas Department of Correction, Davis chose fried chicken, rolls, great northern beans, mashed potatoes and strawberry cake.

Davis' current execution warrant expires at 1 a.m. ET (midnight CT).

UPDATE: This New York Times article provides a more fulsome accounting of all of Monday's litigation that ended up with two scheduled executions being stay. And the lengthy article ends with a preview of what the rest of this week holds:

A spokesman for the state prison system, Solomon Graves, said the Arkansas authorities would be prepared to carry out the other executions that Mr. Hutchinson set.

“The Department of Correction’s attention now shifts to the executions that are scheduled for Thursday,” Mr. Graves said. “We are under the impression, and under the assumption, that those executions will be carried out as scheduled.”

They are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday.

April 17, 2017 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

Comments

Some one call these assholes, and tell to read this blog.

1) the expiration date is fraudulent, and void for illegality, where lying about a drug is illegal. It will be good another decade;

2) the judge's order is illegal, and void for illegality, where insurrection against the constitution is illegal. It may be ignored;

3) the executive has the duty and ability to enforce a court order, since the court has no resources. The executive has total discretion to ignore or to enforce a judicial decision. It may ignore all fines, and threats of arrest, since it has to carry out any penalty;

4) the Arkansas legislature should begin to impeach the judges for their decisions, which are their greatest crimes.

Posted by: David Behar | Apr 17, 2017 11:52:14 PM

Two executions blocked by Arkansas Supreme Court by 4-3 votes. One for mental impairment and the other for a SCOTUS case pending. Let us see how they handle the rest of the executions scheduled to see the majority's real intentions. I don't recall any cases where the federal courts gave the go ahead only to be blocked by a state Supreme court.

Posted by: DaveP | Apr 18, 2017 9:39:04 AM

Application to vacate stay denied:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/041817zr_g20h.pdf

Posted by: Joe | Apr 18, 2017 10:30:55 AM

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