Arkansas tries to reverse execution drug ruling

Arkansas tries to reverse execution drug ruling

The ruling comes a day after the state Supreme Court issued an emergency stay blocking the execution of inmate Bruce Ward, the first of seven inmates the state planned to execute between April 17 and April 27 in advance of its lethal injection drugs expiring at the end of April.

April 15 A US judge in Little Rock on Saturday temporarily blocked plans by Arkansas to hold a rapid series of executions this month, after the inmates argued the state's rush to the death chamber was unconstitutional and reckless.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson had scheduled the executions to take place before the state's supply of midazolam, one of its lethal injection drugs, expires at the end of the month.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has said the state must act quickly because its midazolam supply expires at the end of the month. The order affected one execution that was scheduled for Monday night, as well as five more death sentences that were scheduled to be carried out later in April.

The courts seem to be lining up to disagree with the governor.

While those court proceedings affect all scheduled executions, a third legal issue centers around the case of Bruce Ward.

Some states are now considering alternate means of execution, including the re-introduction of firing squads.

Two other drug companies, Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp., filed a brief in US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas arguing contracts prohibit their products from being used in executions, which run "counter to the manufacturers' mission to save and enhance patients' lives". The companies argued that these drugs are intended for health care, not for killing people. In her order, Baker cited troubled lengthy executions in Alabama, Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma that used the drug.

In her order, Baker said there was a significant possibility that the inmates could successfully challenge the state's execution protocol.

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Protesters gather outside the state Capitol building on Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark., to voice their opposition to Arkansas' seven upcoming executions.

Actor Johnny Depp, left, stands with former Arkansas death row.

Read Baker's entire ruling here.

The drugs used in lethal injections by some American states - 19 of the 50 no longer execute prisoners - have become increasingly hard to obtain.

In a separate case Friday, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state from using a paralyzing drug, vecuronium bromide, made by a company that claims Arkansas obtained it under false pretenses.

If Ward's stay remains in place and he is not executed this month, Arkansas would be looking at executing six inmates in 11 days - no longer an unprecedented time-frame, but one that has not been seen in this country in almost two decades.

"When I heard about the conveyor belt of death that the politicians were trying to set in motion, I knew I couldn't live with myself if I didn't come back and try to do something", Echols said Friday. The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay in his execution.

Judd Deere, spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the decision was out of step with precedent from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Arkansas hasn't executed an inmate since 2005 because of drug shortages and legal challenges.

McKesson contends that Arkansas penal authorities purchased the vecuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, without warning that it would be used to put inmates to death.

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