The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court decisions pertained to the planned lethal injections of a series of inmates that, if completed would be the most inmates put to death by any state since the death penalty was reinstated back in 1976. On Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court reassigned the cases overseen by Judge Griffen after he took part in anti-death penalty demonstrations that same week.
Arkansas' supply of one of those drugs, Midazolam, expires at the end of the month.
The U.S. Supreme Court saved an Arkansas death row inmate's life just minutes before his death warrant expired on Monday.
The state has not executed a convict since 2005.
He was sentenced to death two years later.
The state ruling also applied to Bruce Ward, an Arkansas prisoner whose execution, originally scheduled for Monday, was already the subject of an unrelated stay. The state supreme court granted the stays in light of the pending federal case. But the Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday that could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.
McKesson alleges that it filled the state's order for the drug under the notion that ADC would use it for "legitimate medical goal, consistent with Arkansas State Medical Board Regulations", which state in part that licensed physicians can not administer unsafe or controlled drugs to someone for a reason other than a legitimate medical objective.
No single U.S. state has held eight executions in 10 days since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
"Both Mr. Ward and Mr. Davis were denied independent mental health experts to help their defense attorneys investigate, understand, and present these critical mental health issues to the jury", Assistant Federal Defender Scott Braden said in a statement.
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McKesson alleges that the Arkansas Department of Corrections illegally obtained certain the execution drug Vecuronium in July 2016, by not disclosing they were buying the drug with the intent to execute prisoners.
In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift the stay.
That case, McWilliams v. Dunn from Alabama, is scheduled for oral argument next week and involves legal questions about expert testimony at criminal trials.
"Allowing (Davis') stay to stand will effectively prevent Arkansas from seeing justice done", Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The eight men are scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Arkansas. The state and attorneys for the remaining men launched a flurry of appeals, too.
The European Union on Wednesday urged Hutchinson to commute the death-row inmates' sentences.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit also reversed the decision by Judge Baker halting the executions over the use of midazolam.
His attorneys have separately asked a federal judge to consider claims that Lee has fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage and an intellectual disability. The suit argued there was an unacceptably high risk they would suffer during the executions. However, one of the stipulations is that the company cannot sell the drug to federal and state correctional facilities that engage in capital punishment.
The use of midazolam is controversial with opponents of the death penalty saying not effective at rendering the inmate unconscious. Two pharmaceutical companies filed a court brief last week asking a federal judge to block Arkansas from using their drugs, but the judge did not rule on that issue.