Drug company refiles injuctive relief, asks Arkansas to return execution drug
Apr 24 2017 by Larry Hoffman
Arkansas appealed the stay in Davis' case to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday evening, hoping to still go through with the execution that night.
However, Griffin also attended a protest against capital punishment outside the governor's mansion on Friday.
The central issue in all eight cases is whether midazolam, one of the drugs used in lethal injection, sufficiently numbs an inmate to the pain of the other drugs used to kill them.
In federal court testimony last week, doctors differed on whether midazolam is an appropriate execution drug, though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in 2015 that it is. It capped a chaotic day of legal wrangling in state and federal courts Monday as Arkansas tried to clear obstacles to carrying out its first executions since 2005.
The Arkansas court's ruling also applied to a second inmate, Bruce Ward, who was also scheduled to die Monday. Under that timeline, the state would be unable to execute Ward and Davis before its supply of midazolam expires April 30. The executions of Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee are scheduled for April 20, but their attorneys are working to halt those as well. McKesson seeks an order that would force prison officials to return the company's supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in the state's lethal injection protocol.
A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Tuesday that the state will make its arguments in the cases involving Davis and Ward before the state Supreme Court but will follow the current briefing schedule that the court has set, with deadlines into late May. Two of the inmates were granted stays of execution outside of the federal judge's 15 April decision.
In the early hours of April 18, the US Supreme Court denied Arkansas' application to vacate the stay on Davis' execution. The state decided not to challenge the stay for Ward, but the U.S. Supreme Court had not yet decided whether to allow Davis to be put to death. Arkansas contends it has acted legally.
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Arkansas had run out of its supply of potassium chloride in January, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson said they would be able to procure a supply for the executions.
"While this has been an exhausting day for all involved, tomorrow we will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims' families", the governor added.
Meanwhile the ACLU joined Lee's attorneys in filing a request for a stay in the Pulaski County Circuit Court, arguing he is mentally incompetent and that there is evidence from the murder scene that was never DNA tested.
The BBC, Canadian and Swedish media outlets and reporters from all major networks have converged on the small town of Grady, Arkansas to see death row inmates take their last breath. Monday was the first day the Supreme Court was in session with Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench.
The drug supplier, McKesson Corp., had stated that the drug manufacturer prohibited vecuronium for use in executions and that Arkansas had purchased it under false pretenses.
The justices also took direct action against Judge Griffen by barring him from hearing any death penalty, execution or drug protocal cases.
Capital punishment in several states has been stymied by opposition of some global drug companies to the use of their products for executions and difficulties in finding effective replacements.