The Latest: Arkansas governor 'disappointed' in delay
Posted April 18
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Latest on executions scheduled to take place in Arkansas before the end of April (all times local):
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay that would have allowed the state's first execution in 12 years.
But the Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday that could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.
The state's next two executions are scheduled for Thursday night.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge noted that there are five upcoming executions "with nothing preventing them from occurring." Arkansas originally scheduled eight executions to take place before April 30, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Arkansas' request to lift a stay that would have allowed the state to conduct its first execution in nearly a dozen years.
Justices turned down Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's request to vacate a stay for Don Davis, who was set to die Monday night by lethal injection. It's the second time in seven years that Davis has come within hours of execution before courts intervened.
Arkansas had planned to execute eight inmates before the end of April, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she won't appeal an execution stay set for an inmate whose attorneys say he's mentally ill. But she says she has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate a stay issued for another inmate, Don Davis, who was scheduled to die Monday night.
An Arkansas Supreme Court stay remains in place for Davis, who was sentenced to die for the death of a woman shot at her home in northwest Arkansas during what appeared to be a robbery.
Rutledge says she won't appeal the stays issued to Bruce Ward, who has a separate legal challenge over his mental health.
Davis' death warrant expires at midnight.
Davis came within hours of execution in 2010 before a stay was granted.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has lifted an order that effectively blocked the state's plan to execute eight men by the end of the month, but a stay remains in place for two inmates facing executions Monday night.
Justices on Monday granted the state's motion to lift a Pulaski County judge's order prohibiting the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in the lethal injection protocol. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold to be used for medical purposes, not executions.
Earlier, the high court reassigned Judge Wendell Griffen's death-penalty cases after he was photographed at an anti-death penalty rally, lying down on a cot to apparently mimic an inmate's execution.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will allow the executions of two inmates to proceed, saying the victims' families have waited too long for justice.
The Republican governor said he's frustrated by the stay that the Arkansas Supreme Court issued earlier in the day for inmates Bruce Ward and Don Davis, who were set for execution Monday night.
A federal appeals court dissolved a stay that had been issued by a federal judge, but other legal obstacles remain in state courts.
Hutchinson noted that the state Supreme Court decision was not unanimous and said any further delay harms the loved ones of the two people killed by Davis and Ward.
Arkansas' attorney general says she will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling from the state's highest court that blocked two executions set for Monday night.
The Arkansas Supreme Court had halted the executions of Don Davis and Bruce Ward, granting a request from the inmates' attorneys who wanted stays of executions while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a separate case next week involving defendants' access to independent mental health experts.
Another stay is in place for Ward, whose attorneys say he is too mentally ill to be executed.
But a federal appeals court panel on Monday dissolved a stay from a federal judge who'd halted upcoming executions over concerns about midazolam, one of the three lethal injection drugs that Arkansas wants to use.
Arkansas had planned eight executions before the end of April, when its midazolam supply expires.
A federal appeals court has cleared one legal obstacle Arkansas faces in its plan to execute several inmates.
The state still must overcome other court orders blocking the inmates' executions if it is to carry out any of the lethal injections it had scheduled for the last two weeks of April.
The federal appeals court on Monday overturned a judge's order halting the executions over concerns about one of the lethal injection drugs to be used.
The decision came even as the Arkansas Supreme Court was issuing an order halting two executions set for Monday. That order remains in place.
Arkansas had scheduled the executions to occur before the state's supply of midazolam expires at the end of April. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker halted the executions over the use of the drug, which has been used in flawed executions in other states, and over the inmates' access to attorneys on the day of the executions.
Arkansas' attorney general says she will seek an "immediate review" of a state Supreme Court decision that halted two executions set for Monday, though several other legal obstacles remain for the state to carry out its plan.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge did not say where she would seek a review, but she could ask either the Arkansas Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court for one.
She made her plans known in a status update filed Monday with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Rutledge said the state court's ruling was based "on a misinterpretation of federal law."
The court, in a 4-3 decision, stayed the executions for Don Davis and Bruce Ward while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a separate case concerning access to independent mental health experts by defendants. The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments in that case April 24.
A divided Arkansas Supreme Court granted stays of executions for two Arkansas inmates while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a separate case next week concerning access to independent mental health experts by defendants.
The Arkansas court ruled 4-3 Monday to block the executions for Bruce Ward and Don Davis, who were originally scheduled to be put to death Monday night, though stays had been issued in separate court cases challenging their executions and six others planned this month.
Writing in a dissent, Associate Justice Shawn Womack lamented the court's ruling. He wrote that Ward and Davis have had "decades of appeals" and that the victims' families deserved closure.
A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had no immediate comment on the court's ruling.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted the executions of two men originally scheduled to be put to death Monday night, putting another legal roadblock in place in Arkansas' plan to conduct eight executions before the end of April.
Justices granted the stays Monday afternoon for Don Davis and Bruce Ward. The inmates wanted stays of execution while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case concerning access to independent mental health experts by defendants. The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments in that case April 24.
The inmates' attorneys say they were denied access to independent mental health experts. They've argued that Ward has a lifelong history of severe mental illness and that Davis has an IQ in the range of intellectual disability.
Arkansas' supply of one key execution drug expires April 30. A federal judge has also stayed the executions on different grounds, and the state has appealed that ruling.
The Arkansas Supreme Court is barring a judge who blocked the state's multiple executions plan from taking up any death penalty related cases after he participated in a protest where he appeared to mimic an inmate about to receive lethal injection drugs.
Justices on Monday reassigned the cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. The judge last week prohibited the state from using a lethal injection drug a supplier said was misleadingly obtained. Griffen participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration after issuing the ruling Friday.
The state's highest court also referred Griffen to the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to consider whether he violated the code of conduct for judges.
At the demonstration, Griffen was strapped to a cot. The judge says he's morally opposed to the death penalty, but that his beliefs shouldn't prevent him from taking up certain cases.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has reissued its order that halted the execution of one of the first inmates facing lethal injection under the state's multiple execution plan.
The reissued order Monday clarifies that three of the seven justices would have denied the request for a stay for Bruce Earl Ward. The court has not ruled on the state's request to reconsider that stay.
Ward was convicted of killing a convenience store clerk. He had been scheduled to die Monday night under the state's plan to put eight inmates to death before the end of the month.
A separate federal court ruling has halted all of the executions.
Ward's attorneys say he's a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.
A spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she's evaluating options on how to proceed.
This item has been corrected to reflect that the Arkansas Supreme Court did not issue a new order and has not addressed the state's request its stay for Bruce Earl Ward.
Lawyers for inmates facing a series of double executions in Arkansas say a federal appeals court should schedule oral arguments as it considers whether to dissolve or preserve the execution stays imposed by a lower court judge.
The executions would have started Monday night under Arkansas' aggressive plan to use a key drug before it expires at the end of April. But U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued stays Saturday so the inmates could pursue a claim that they could suffer "severe pain."
The state of Arkansas appealed and has asked for a quick decision. In a filing early Monday, the inmates' lawyers say the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should avoid a "rushed analysis."
Arkansas says it cannot find a new drug supply if the executions are delayed.
Arkansas is fighting on multiple legal fronts to begin a series of double-executions.
Bruce Earl Ward and Don William Davis Jr. were scheduled to die Monday night in the first two of eight executions over 11 days. A state court judge on Friday blocked Arkansas from using one of its three lethal injection drugs until he can determine whether it was obtained properly, and a federal judge on Saturday issued stays of all the executions.
Lawyers for the state have appeals pending before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court. They say in their filings that the stays should be reversed immediately so Arkansas can carry out the executions before one of its lethal injection drugs expires at the end of the month.