US Supreme Court won't allow Arkansas execution

In federal court testimony last week, doctors differed on whether midazolam is an appropriate execution drug, though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in 2015 that it is.

Hutchinson's original schedule of eight lethal injections in 11 days would have marked the most inmates put to death by a state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

"While this has been an exhausting day for all involved, tomorrow we will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims' families", said Governor Asa Hutchinson in a statement.

Justices declined an appeal from the state's attorney general to lift a stay barring the execution of Don Davis, who was slated to be the first of several inmates to die this month.

Both inmates' lawyers claim that their clients are too mentally impaired to face capital punishment and were not offered proper mental health screening.

If court proceedings are pushed into May, Arkansas will not be able to carry out the executions with the drugs it has on hand. They've argued that Ward has a lifelong history of severe mental illness and that Davis has an IQ in the range of intellectual disability. Local media outlets had tweeted photos and video of Griffen appearing to mimic an inmate strapped to a gurney at the demonstration.

Arkansas had planned eight executions before the end of April, when its midazolam supply expires. "(D) elaying Appellees' executions by even a few days - until Arkansas's supply of midazolam expires - will make it impossible for Arkansas to carry out Appellees' just and lawful sentences". That case challenges the state's method of performing the executions.

The Arkansas high court already had issued one stay for Ward after a Jefferson County judge said she didn't have the authority to halt Ward's execution.

There were two rulings - in the first, the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the executions of Davis and Ward, in a 4-3 decision. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold for medical purposes, not executions.

Rutledge did not request an appeal for Ward, as this was the second stay of execution the state supreme court granted him.

Arkansas enacted a law two years ago keeping secret the source of its lethal injection drugs, a move officials said was necessary to find new supplies. Two inmates are set to be put to death on Thursday.

The judge determined that their concerns were sufficient to halt the executions for the time being, to allow the issue to be considered by the courts.

Ward's attorneys say he's a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

This 2010 photo provided by the U.S District Court of Eastern District of Arkansas shows U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker.

Rutledge was quick to respond to the Monday night decision.

The federal judge's decision on Saturday, meanwhile, was in response to a lawsuit on behalf of the inmates that argued an execution with midazolam would violate their rights. In a filing early Monday, the inmates' lawyers say the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should avoid a "rushed analysis".

Also on Friday, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the state from administering one of three drugs it planned to use, vercuronium bromide. A spokesman for the attorney general said Monday the request had been denied but later retracted the comment and said the request was pending, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

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