A federal judge has halted Arkansas' already compromised plan to execute several inmates over an 11-day period starting next week.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Saturday granted a preliminary injunction requested by the inmates to block the executions. Arkansas was set to execute the first inmate by lethal injection on Monday night.
The state originally planned to execute eight inmates, but two had previously been blocked by state and federal courts. A state judge earlier Friday blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug, a move that could also halt the executions altogether.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson had scheduled the executions to take place before the state's supply of one of its lethal injection drugs expires at the end of the month. Arkansas hasn't executed an inmate since 2005 because of drug shortages and legal challenges.
A copy of Baker's preliminary injunction order is available here.
A copy of Baker's denying the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit is available here.
UPDATE 4/15/17: Gov. Asa Hutchinson released the following statement in response:'
“When I set the eight execution dates in accordance with the law and my responsibilities, I was fully aware that the actions would trigger both the individual clemency hearings and separate court reviews on varying claims by the death row inmates. I understand how difficult this is on the victims’ families, and my heart goes out to them as they once again deal with the continued court review; however, the last minute court reviews are all part of the difficult process of death penalty cases. I expect both the Supreme Court of Arkansas and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decisions quickly, and I have confidence in the Attorney General and her team to expedite the reviews.
“I’ll be meeting with the Attorney General and the Arkansas Department of Correction on Monday to determine next steps.”