Judge Strikes Down Execution Secrecy Law, Governor Calls Decision 'Troubling'

Dec 3, 2015

File photo of Pulaski County District Court Judge Wendell Griffen.
Credit PBS

A state judge has struck down a portion of Arkansas' law that keeps confidential the source of its execution drugs.

Pulaski County District Court Wendell Griffen also ruled Thursday that the state must disclose details of the 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."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the decision "troubling" and that seeking a stay from the state Supreme Court is an option.

The Republican governor said he needs to talk with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office and legal counsel about the next steps.

Hutchinson said the ruling puts the state in a difficult position since it assured the drug suppliers of the confidentiality promised under the law. He also questioned the need for such a ruling since the state Supreme Court has put Arkansas' pending executions on hold.