Attorneys for eight Arkansas inmates whose executions have been put on hold say a judge had the authority to block the state from putting them to death while he considers a challenge to the state's lethal injection law.
The attorneys on Friday asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to deny a motion by the state to dissolve Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's order blocking the executions, which were set to begin next week.
The inmates are challenging the constitutionality of an Arkansas law enacted this year that keeps details about the source of the state's lethal injection drugs secret. Griffen's order last week set a March 1 hearing on the case.
The filing by the inmates' attorneys asked the court to either reject the state's request or, alternatively, issue its own stays blocking the executions.
Judge Griffen also Friday requested that the state Supreme Court reject the state's effort to dissolve his order.
Griffen said any irreparable injury claimed by the state was "self-inflicted" since it set the execution dates while a case was still pending challenging the new law.
Meanwhile Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office Friday asked the court to deny the inmates' conditional request for the stays.
Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt argued in the filing that the issues raised by the inmates' challenge to Arkansas' lethal injection law could have been resolved long ago. Merritt said the inmates' lawyers only began diligently pursuing their case after Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled their executions to begin Oct. 21.