Arkansas fights court orders blocking executions
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A last-minute spate of court orders has derailed Arkansas’ unprecedented eight-men-in-11-days execution schedule, sending the state into a race against the clock to reverse the rulings before a key lethal injection drug expires April 30.
Nobody was busier over the weekend than Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who filed appeals Saturday challenging three court decisions that temporarily blocked executions to inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection from April 17-27.
The first two executions were slated to be carried out Monday, but it’s unlikely those will happen unless the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals quickly vacates a preliminary injunction issued Saturday by U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker.
The judge based her injunction in part on concerns raised about the possibility of “severe pain” from the state’s three-drug protocol, which includes the soon-to-expire sedative midazolam, while Ms. Rutledge argued that the inmates had previously litigated that issue and lost.
The court “disregarded the fact that delaying Appellees’ executions by even a few days — until after Arkansas’ supply of midazolam runs out — will make it impossible for Arkansas to carry out Appellees’ just and lawful sentences,” the state said in its 27-page emergency motion.
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