Arkansas Tries To Reverse Execution Drug Ruling By Pulaski County Judge

Apr 15, 2017

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen participates in an anti-death penalty demonstration, lying on a symbolic "gurney" outside the Arkansas Governor's Mansion on Friday.
Credit Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Arkansas' attorney general is asking the state's highest court to vacate a judge's ruling that blocks the state from using one of its lethal injection drugs.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also wants to remove the judge from the case after he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the day he issued his decision.

Rutledge on Saturday filed an emergency petition with the state Supreme Court after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted a temporary restraining order blocking the drug's use. A supplier of the drug accused Arkansas of misleadingly obtaining the product, saying it wasn't sold to be used for executions.

Rutledge's office noted Griffen's attendance at a death penalty demonstration outside the Governor's Mansion the same day the ruling was issued. Photos and video showed Griffen strapped to a cot, appearing to mimic a death row inmate on a gurney.

From Friday 4/14/17:

Arkansas' already compromised plan to put eight men to death over 11 days is in limbo after a judge blocked the use of a lethal injection drug that a supplier says officials misleadingly obtained and the state's highest court halted the executions of one of the first inmates who had been scheduled to die.

A federal judge could further upend the plans, with a possible ruling on Saturday on whether to halt the executions over the inmates' complaints about the compressed timetable and the use of a controversial sedative in the lethal injections.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted a temporary restraining order Friday to McKesson, a medical supply company that says it sold vecuronium bromide to the state for medical purposes and not for executions.