Arkansas Supreme Court Halts 2 Executions

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission confirmed Monday an investigation of Griffen is pending following the state Supreme Court referral.

Arkansas appealed the stay in Davis' case to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday evening, hoping to still go through with the execution that night. They claimed the sedative drug doesn't always work and causes those who are being executed to feel pain from the use of the other two lethal injection drugs.

"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".

A federal appeals court overturned U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker's ruling to stop the executions because of the overuse of midazolam because it had flawed results in other states executions.

Rosenzweig also represents two other inmates scheduled to die this month - Jack Jones and Kenneth Williams.

In its lawsuit, McKesson Medical-Surgical, a unit of McKesson Corp, said the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) acted deceitfully when it purchased another drug, vecuronium bromide, a commonly used muscle relaxant given in extreme doses in executions to paralyze the body and halt breathing.

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Attorneys argue that Davis and Ward were too mentally impaired to face execution, and were not offered the appropriate mental health screening.

Don Davis had been given his last meal Monday evening, with the U.S. high court decision to leave a state court's stay of execution in place coming as the minutes ticked toward 1 a.m. ET (midnight Central Time) when the execution warrant was to expire. They also want the court to schedule oral arguments.

But Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the US Supreme Court to overrule the state court to proceed with Davis' execution.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he is "disappointed in this delay for the victim's family". A pharmaceutical supplier alleges that the state bought the drug deceptively, actively misleading the seller about what it would be used for. They filed a separate petition for stays on Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court over a procedural matter.

After the rulings temporarily halting the executions were issued, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, thanked all of those who had "prayed and worked so hard to prevent these scheduled executions from taking place".

But amid public opposition to the death penalty, including protests in the state capital Little Rock including actor Johnny Depp and a judge linked to one of the cases, lawyers obtained stays for three of the executions.

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Arkansas had scheduled the executions before its supply of midazolam expired at the end of April.

Griffen did not immediately return a message Monday seeking his reaction to the high court's order.

Lawyers for the condemned also say that the accelerated executions could take a severe toll on the small team of penitentiary employees who carry out the death penalty, and who have not had to do so for 12 years.

Associate Justice Shawn Womack, writing in dissent, said Davis and Ward "had their day in court" and that the families are "entitled to closure and finality of the law". The state has not appealed those decisions as of yet.

Among the decisions the state is appealing against is one from a federal judge who on Saturday halted all of the executions so the inmates could pursue claims their deaths could be especially painful.

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas, planned a novena from April 9 to April 17 for those set to be executed and for clemency to be granted in their cases.

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