Arkansas fights on multiple legal fronts to begin executions

Arkansas inmates ask appeals court to review part of ruling

The state has appealed that ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hadn't weighed in as of mid-afternoon. A federal magistrate judge in OH blocked executions in that state over concerns about midazolam, and the decision was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati earlier this month.

In its request that the 8th Circuit review whether the inmates should be spared because of society's "evolving standards of decency", the inmates lawyers say that even the executioners could benefit if Arkansas used a less-compressed timetable.

"As a public opponent of capital punishment, Judge Griffen should have recused himself from this case", a spokesman for Rutledge said in a statement.

The bigger problem, Baker's opinion says, is a prison policy that prohibits more than one of the inmates' attorneys from witnessing the executions. She said that while the state demonstrated it does not plan to torture the inmates, the inmates had a right to challenge the method of execution in an attempt to show it "creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain". 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. After issuing his order, Griffen went to the Governor's Mansion and joined a protest outside against the death penalty. She could ask either the state court or the U.S. Supreme Court for the review.

The restraining order was issued in response to a case brought by the manufacturer of one of the drugs, vecuronium bromide, that Arkansas uses in its executions. The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments on April 24.

Rutledge also filed another appeal challenging a ruling that stayed inmate Bruce Ward's execution on the grounds of mental disability.

Arkansas' plans to carry out six executions over two weeks - already stopped by a state judge - were doubly halted Saturday by a federal judge who raised constitutional concerns. 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.

But because the state has no other way to execute, Rutledge said the TRO is tantamount to a stay of execution. This 2010 photo provided by the U.S District Court of Eastern District of Arkansas shows U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker. Arkansas scheduled the executions to take place before its supply of midazolam expires at the end of the month.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen lies on a gurney outside the Governor's Mansion during a protest against the death penalty Friday.

According to court documents, McKesson Medical-Surgical Incorporated filed the temporary restraining order for an "injuctive relief" and for the state of Arkansas to return its property, 10 vials of 20mg Vecuronium bromide.

Earlier in the day, Rutledge's office also filed an emergency petition seeking to have the Arkansas Supreme Court throw out the restraining order issued Friday evening by Griffen in a lawsuit filed Friday by McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc., a DE drug company.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Lawyers for the state of Arkansas fought on multiple legal fronts Monday to begin a series of double executions before a key sedative used in lethal injections expires at the end of the month.