The state is appealing to the Arkansas Supreme Court a decision by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin staying the executions of eight death row inmates whose appeals have been exhausted and whose execution dates had been set.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced that the Department of Correction and Director Wendy Kelley are appealing Griffin’s temporary restraining order Oct. 9 to halt the executions, as well as his denial of the state’s motion to dissolve that order, which was entered Tuesday (Oct. 12).
The court has set the preliminary injunction hearing for March 1-2.
The plaintiffs are the eight convicted inmates whose appeals have been exhausted: Stacey Johnson, Jason McGehee, Bruce Ward, Terrick Nooner, Jack Jones, Marcel Williams and Don Davis; as well as a ninth death row inmate, Ledelle Lee. The first two executions of Ward and Davis had been set by Gov. Asa Hutchinson for Oct. 21, with the other six executions to follow. The Arkansas Department of Correction and Director Wendy Kelley are listed as the defendants.
Arkansas has not carried out the death penalty since 2005.
Judd Deere, Rutledge’s communications director, said in an interview that Rutledge is considering requesting a motion for a protective order on a second ruling related to the executions made by Griffin Monday. Griffin ruled that the Department of Correction must identify the manufacturer, seller, distributor and supplier of all lethal injection drugs used in executions by Oct. 21 or otherwise must object to the disclosure. The protective order would be the method of objecting to that disclosure.
The inmates sued claiming as unconstitutional a new Arkansas law that shields the state from revealing information that could identify its execution drugs’ manufacturers and sellers. The law was passed because drug manufacturers’ reluctance to being identified with the death penalty has made procuring the drugs difficult. The inmates argue that the lack of information about the drugs exposed them to the risk of pain and suffering.
Under Griffin’s ruling, the Department of Correction has been ordered to produce by Oct. 21 un-redacted package inserts, shipping labels, lab test results and product warnings for any drugs that will be administered during the execution.