LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Here is the latest on a judge’s ruling striking down a portion of Arkansas’ law that keeps confidential details about execution drugs (all times local):
Arkansas has filed an emergency motion to halt a lower court judge’s mandate that it turn over information about the source and maker of its execution drugs by noon Friday.
The Arkansas attorney general’s office filed the motion with the State Supreme Court late Thursday. It asks that Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen’s order be stayed pending an appeal of his Thursday ruling that struck down a portion of the state’s execution law that allows the state to withhold information on the drugs’ makers and suppliers.
Attorneys for the state note in the motion that courts in other states with secrecy laws regarding executions have generally sided with states on challenges to those laws. They believe Arkansas’ law is less stringent than many of those.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed notice that the state plans to appeal a judge’s decision to strike down a portion of the state’s execution law that allows the source of the state’s lethal drugs to remain secret.
Spokesman Judd Deere said in an emailed statement late Thursday that Rutledge plans to ask the Arkansas Supreme Court for “an immediate stay as quickly as possible.”
The lower court ruling set a noon deadline for the state to turn over information about the makers, suppliers and other details about the state’s three-drug protocol.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Wendell Griffen sided with death row inmates who challenged the law passed by legislators this year. Griffin rejected arguments by the state that identifying the suppliers would make it harder to obtain the drugs.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is calling a judge’s decision to strike down a portion of the state’s law that keeps secret details about the drugs used in executions “troubling” and says seeking a stay from the state Supreme Court is an option.
The Republican governor said Thursday that he needs to talk with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office and legal counsel about the next steps following Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s ruling.
Griffen gave the state until noon Friday to disclose the execution drug details.
Hutchinson said the ruling puts the state in a difficult position since it assured the drug suppliers of the confidentiality promised under the law. Hutchinson questioned the need for such a ruling since the state Supreme Court has put Arkansas’ pending executions on hold.
Hutchinson said seeking a stay from the state Supreme Court is an option that should be considered.
A state judge has struck down a portion of Arkansas’ law that keeps confidential the source of its execution drugs.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Wendell Griffen ruled Thursday that the state must disclose details of its execution drugs by noon Friday.
He sided with death row inmates who challenged a law passed by legislators this year that shielded the identity of drug suppliers.
Griffen rejected arguments from the state that said disclosing the information would make it more difficult to obtain the drugs. The state had also argued that drug companies could face undue criticism because of the disclosure.
He ruled that a company that does business with the state has no constitutional right “to enjoy governmental protection from criticism.”
This story has been corrected to show that Griffen is a circuit court judge, not a district court judge.