Arkansas fights on multiple legal fronts to begin executions


". (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".

On Monday the Arkansas Supreme Court also made two decisions relating to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin and his decisions. Johnson's attorneys appealed immediately.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Supreme Court yesterday 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.

The legal issue that halted Monday's executions for Ward and Davis hinged on a separate, broader case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a defendant's access to independent experts, and attorneys say the justices' ruling could potentially affect the inmates' criminal convictions.

"The canceled execution of a prisoner was a setback for the state, which intended carry out all executions before its stock of lethal injection drugs expired".

"Immediate reversal is warranted", Arkansas' solicitor general, Lee Rudofsky, wrote Saturday to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Arkansas had run out of its supply of potassium chloride in January, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson said they would be able to procure a supply for the executions.

Two prisoners on death row for murder in the USA have escaped execution following a last-minute decision by a state Supreme Court. It capped a chaotic day of legal wrangling in state and federal courts to clear the primary obstacles Arkansas faced to carrying out its first executions since 2005.

Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson are scheduled to receive lethal injections on Thursday.

The drugs used in lethal injections by some American states - 19 of the 50 no longer execute prisoners - have become increasingly hard to obtain.

The bishop said the timing for these executions "was not set by the demands of justice, but by the arbitrary politics of punishment", referring to the state's supply of the sedative used in executions. Many pharmaceutical companies, particularly in Europe, ban their use for executions.

Officials in Arkansas drew worldwide criticism in February when they announced plans to execute eight prisoners over ten days in an attempt to use up the state's supply of lethal injection drugs before it expired at the end of the month. Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, no state has executed so many men in such a short time, said Robert Dunham from the Death Penalty Information Center. Arkansas officials originally scheduled eight executions from 17-27 April.

Scott Braden, an attorney with the Arkansas Federal Defender Office who represents both Davis and Ward, said his clients suffer from severe mental illness and "were denied independent mental health experts to help their defense attorneys investigate, understand, and present these critical mental health issues to the jury".

His attorneys have separately asked a federal judge to consider claims that Lee has fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage and an intellectual disability.

By the time the court reached a decision Monday night, Davis had already received his last meal and the execution team was ready.