Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

AR Supreme Court upholds Bruce Ward stay of execution

AR Supreme Court upholds Bruce Ward stay of execution

The Attorney General's office has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

Justices granted the stays Monday afternoon for Don Davis and Bruce Ward. The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments on April 24. 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.

In a report released by the group, each one of the convicted Arkansas murders has problems - including intellectual disabilities, mental illness and childhood trauma - that might preclude them from the death penalty.

"The people of the United States have spoken out against this horrific conveyer belt of death and we are relieved that the judge has temporarily stopped these executions". Image: Stephen B. Thornton/AP/Press Association ImagesWhat is midazolam?

The state's highest court has not acted on a request that it lift a reprieve granted to one condemned man scheduled to die Monday night. Arkansas had originally scheduled eight executions in the span of 10 days because their lethal injection supply was set to expire at the end of the month.

The court granted Ward's request for a stay of execution Friday (April 14) but offered no reason for its decision.

"Reject the state's request for a rushed analysis of this complex record", they wrote.

The Arkansas attorney general's office said the decision strayed from previous cases before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

A spokesman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she's evaluating options on how to proceed. The actor joined an anti-death penalty rally in Little Rock, Arksansas, on 14 April, walking beside Damien Echols, who he campaigned to free, having spent 18 years on death row before being freed.

The decision of the justices was released late Monday morning. The state Supreme Court issued a stay for another of the inmates on Friday so that his mental health could be assessed.

This fast-paced schedule of executions was planned in order to beat the expiration date on its batch of one of the drugs used in its lethal injection cocktail. The judge did not agree with all of the inmates claims, including their argument that a quickened pace of executions would likely lead to a botched execution, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. "After hearing the evidence ... the court is compelled to stay these executions", she said.

Lawmakers have suggested the move may be grounds for the Arkansas House to begin impeachment proceedings, saying the demonstration and a blog post Griffen wrote on the death penalty last week may amount to "gross misconduct" under the state constitution. "Equity should, therefore, not permit Appellees to deliberately manipulate the judicial process to evade justice".

The drug has been used in flawed executions in Oklahoma and Arizona.

The inmates lost on some claims, including one that their lawyers couldn't provide adequate counsel under the state's schedule and that the tight timetable itself was improper.

A federal judge issued stays for each of the inmates on Saturday, but the inmates could still face death beginning as soon as Monday night.

Arkansas' difficulty in obtaining those drugs has come into focus in the past few days as three pharmaceutical companies claimed the state improperly obtained their products and sought to block their use in executions.

Any significant delay in court arguments could make them largely meaningless: Arkansas' midazolam supply expires April 30 and the state says it has no source for additional doses. The U.S. Supreme Court could be asked to tackle a number of questions before the end of the day and, depending on those answers, Ward could walk to the death chamber at Varner for a 7 p.m. execution.

Like this: