Arkansas prepping for lethal injections despite halt from courts

Arkansas said it would go ahead with its plans to execute the remaining six inmates, through dual executions on Thursday, April 24 and April 27.

(Sherry Simon via AP).

But after issuing the order, Griffen allowed himself to be strapped to a cot during a protest to simulate an inmate being injected.

(Arkansas Department of Correction, via AP, File).

(Stephen B. Thornton/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP).

Former Arkansas death row inmate Damien Echols talks with the media before speaking at a rally opposing Arkansas' upcoming executions, which are set to begin next week, on the front steps of the Capitol Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark.

Arkansas, which has not held an execution in 12 years, had planned to execute eight inmates over 11 days, the most of any state in that short a time since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. He said the state has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the state high court with "a decision later tonight".

"To protect the integrity of the judicial system this court has a duty to ensure that all are given a fair and impartial tribunal", said the Arkansas Supreme Court in its order.

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The company that asked Griffen to act, McKesson Corp., sought to drop its lawsuit after U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued her stays on Saturday.

Using that test, Baker found that there was a significant possibility the inmates could establish that several drugs are available alternatives carrying lesser risk of pain-and that the use of firing squads was another available alternative.

A little over an hour later, the state Supreme Court lifted a judge's ruling that had effectively blocked the executions by prohibiting the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of the other lethal injection drugs.

The state judge's decision, reached Friday, was based on how Arkansas acquired another drug - vecuronium bromide, which is used in anesthesia as well as executions.

In a split decision, the state's highest court halted the executions of convicted murderers Don Davis and Bruce Ward, who have spent over 20 years each on death row.

Writing in a dissent, Associate Justice Shawn Womack lamented the court's ruling.

"Attorneys are working around the clock and committed to upholding and defending the rule of law, seeing these executions carried out, seeing justice for the families of those victims". Their lawyers had raised questions about their mental competency.

Arkansas moved forward with its attempt to begin a series of double executions Monday night despite rulings in state and federal courts that the inmates were entitled to additional appeals.

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Lawyers for the state appealed Baker's ruling immediately with the hope of beginning the executions Monday.

Asa Hutchinson said he expected a decision from the nation's highest court Monday night.

A federal judge has halted all of the planned executions on different grounds.

Ward's attorneys say he's a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

This was just the latest setback for the state's plan to execute eight prisoners before its supply of the sedative midazolam expires at the end of the month.

Arkansas says it can not find a new drug supply if the executions are delayed. She could ask either the state court or the U.S. Supreme Court for the review. Critics contend it does not put a person in a deep enough state of unconsciousness and should not be used in executions.

Our content partner the Arkansas Blog (Arkansas Times) adds that the state has argued that Baker didn't adequately consider that her order would put a stop to scheduled executions that carry out lawful sentences.

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