Arkansas Pushes To Carry Out Executions, Fighting Court Rulings And The Clock

April 17 Arkansas has not called off its plans to begin an unprecedented series of executions on Monday despite federal and state court rulings that temporarily halted the lethal injections of eight death row inmates.

Justices on Friday, April, April 14,2017, issued a stay in the execution of Bruce Ward, one of seven inmates the state plans to put to death before the end of the month.

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.

Rutledge is evaluating options on how to proceed, Deere said.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday also barred a state judge who blocked the multiple execution plan from taking up any death penalty related cases after he participated in a protest where he appeared to mimic a death row inmate about to receive lethal injection.

In its filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, the state attorney general's office said the inmates' request to halt the executions "is nothing more than an attempt to manipulate the judicial process".

Arkansas last put a prisoner to death in 2005, has not executed two prisoners on the same day since 1999 and has not killed six inmates in a single month since February 1926 - the state's record, according to the Correction Department.

Bruce Earl Ward and Don William Davis Jr. were scheduled to die Monday night in the first two of eight executions over 11 days.

If the attorney had to rush out to file an emergency petition, it would deprive the inmate of a lawyer to witness the execution, Baker said. Arkansas hasn't carried out a double execution since 1999. A spokesman for Rutledge initially said the motion was rejected Monday, but he later said that was incorrect and the state had simply not yet acted on it. Any decision there would likely also be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted a temporary injunction for all eight inmates that halted their executions on grounds including that the state's protocols violate U.S. constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

"The schedule imposed on these officials, as well as their lack of recent execution experience, causes concern", she wrote.

"Immediate reversal is warranted", Arkansas' solicitor general, Lee Rudofsky, wrote Saturday in the state's appeal to the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit. In a victory for the state Sunday, a federal judge in western Arkansas denied a stay request by Davis.

In state court on Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen blocked the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide after a distributor complained prison officials used false pretenses to obtain it.

The state adopted its protocol to use midazlolam, one of the three drugs in the state's lethal cocktail, in 2015.

The Arkansas Supreme Court reassigned capital cases on the docket of the judge, Wendell Griffen, in an assignment order (PDF) on Monday, Arkansas Online reports.

A different federal judge has issued a stay for an inmate who won a clemency recommendation from the state's Parole Board, while the state Supreme Court has issued one for another inmate pending more mental health tests. She said the relatives of victims have waited for years to see executions, but, "by this order, that day is delayed again". "After hearing the evidence ... the court is compelled to stay these executions", she said.

"We have never, in my knowledge, been so afraid to admit that people can have personal beliefs yet can follow the law, even when to follow the law means they must place their personal feelings aside", Griffen told The Associated Press on Saturday.

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