Arkansas judge blocks use of lethal injection drugs

Inmates argued that the use of the sedative midazolam risked inflicting severe pain on the inmates over concerns that the drug would not render inmates unconscious before the second and third drugs, a paralytic and the heart-stopping potassium chloride, are administered.

If the rulings are overturned by Monday night, the state will be prepared to execute at least one inmate, according to local TV station KATV. Protesters gather outside the state Capitol building on Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark., to voice their opposition to Arkansas' seven upcoming executions. The reason? One of the drugs used for executions, midazolam, is expiring at the end of the month, reports Time.

Arkansas is making preparations for a series of executions that, as of late morning Monday, it is legally barred from carrying out. She also noted that the execution team did not have antidotes on hand in case there was trouble with any of the drugs.

Initially, eight men were on the calendar to die in 11 days but a federal judge on Thursday ordered a stay for Bruce Ward following a recommendation from the Arkansas Parole Board that he be granted clemency.

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.

The federal high court will hold oral arguments in that case April 24, putting another legal roadblock in place in Arkansas' plan to conduct eight executions before the end of April. After issuing the order, Griffen participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration where he was strapped to a cot.

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Defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, who represents three of the men the state is looking to execute, argues Arkansas' rush to complete the executions is unconstitutional and "reeks of an assembly line".

Lawyers for the USA state of Arkansas have vowed to overturn court orders preventing them from beginning an unprecedented series of executions this week.

Hutchinson and state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge have been pushing to carry out the executions anyway.

As of now, both Griffen's temporary restraining order issued Friday, which directs the prison system not to use a paralyzing drug until the court can determine whether the state had obtained it properly, and U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker's injunction Saturday that halts all the executions are blocking the state's actions.

"The court is mindful of the fact that the state of Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005, despite consistent support for capital punishment for Arkansawyers and their elected representatives", Baker wrote.

The 8th Circuit could take up the appeal of Baker's order at any time.

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"138 people have been released from death row in the United States following a review of their convictions, it is something which has been used to kill innocent people in the past".

Witnesses said Alabama death row inmate Ronald Bert Smith moved around on the gurney for approximately 13 minutes after he was given midazolam during his execution previous year. The high court did not cite any reason for the stay.

"The most information seems to come when there's a botch", said Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School and an expert on the death penalty.

The legal team for the USA state of Arkansas has pledged to reverse the legal challenges which stopped them from beginning a series of executions this week.

"This is an issue which would resonate in Ireland because in the past year, we had the first ever presidential pardon for a person executed in this state".

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