3 Arkansas Inmates Press Challenges In Death Penalty Cases

Jan 25, 2018

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A lawyer for an Arkansas inmate who came within hours of being put to death last year has told the state Supreme Court that for three decades it has been misinterpreting a ruling that sets when death row inmates should have access to mental health experts.

Bruce Ward was among eight inmates set for execution last April. Justices issued a stay for him and Don Davis while the U.S. Supreme Court took up a similar case from Alabama. In arguments Thursday, lawyer Scott Braden said Ward never had access to a fully independent mental examiner.

The state's lawyer, Lee Rudofsky, said Ward was evaluated but never met the minimum threshold for triggering a requirement that he be given assistance at all stages of his trial.

Arguments in Davis' case were set for later Thursday morning.