Arkansas Supreme Court

John Williams death row attorney lethal injection
courts.arkansas.gov/courts/supreme-court

Executions may be a step closer to resuming in Arkansas if the state’s Supreme Court rules in favor of Arkansas’s lethal injection drug-supplier secrecy laws.

John Williams, an attorney for eight inmates on death row argued before the high court Thursday that state secrecy about drug suppliers violates their constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Arkansas is running out of time to put eight prisoners to death before one of its lethal drugs expires next month, even if the state Supreme Court gives a quick green light after hearing an inmate challenge to execution procedures next week.

The state finds itself against a deadline because its supply of the paralytic vecuronium bromide - one of the three drugs in Arkansas' lethal drug protocol - expires June 30. The state's drug supplier has said it won't sell the state more.

An attorney representing four judges says the Legislature circumvented the Arkansas Constitution when it passed a law eliminating retirement benefits for judges who are elected at age 70 or older.

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Thursday in an appeal of a lower court's December ruling upholding the law.

The state framed the law as protecting the integrity of the judiciary because a person's abilities can deteriorate with age. Judges who turn 70 while they are in office can finish their term without losing their benefits.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says an Arkansas law does not give inmates credit for jail sentences served before their probation is revoked.

The court issued the ruling Thursday after a Pulaski County man argued that a lower court should have granted him 120 days of jail credit. Michael Burgess was sentenced to serve the 120 days and then serve terms of probation.

The lower court denied Burgess credit for the 120 days when he violated probation and was given an additional jail sentence of 36 months.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by an inmate sentenced to death for killing a prison guard.

The court issued its opinion Thursday that a lower court did not commit error during the 2014 trial of Latavious Johnson when it didn't instruct the jury on the requirements for a lesser manslaughter charge.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered a county clerk to appear next month and explain why the court should not hold her in contempt.

The court issued the order Thursday for Lincoln County Clerk Cindy Glover to appear before the court on May 5 and explain a filing issue with an inmate's legal appeal. Inmate Kenny Halfacre had asked for a poverty designation to file a lawsuit without paying the filing fee.

That request was denied, and Halfacre tried to appeal. The clerk's office had not filed the orders because no fees had been paid, which halted the appeal.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit by death row inmates that challenges the state's execution law.

The court issued a brief statement Thursday granting the request for oral argument by the inmates' attorneys. The statement says a date will be set later.

Nine inmates have asked justices to uphold a circuit judge's decision to strike down the portion of the law that blocks state officials from revealing where Arkansas gets its execution drugs.

A split Arkansas Supreme Court says a Bella Vista police officer doesn't have to face trial after arresting the wrong woman on an outstanding warrant.

Officer Travis Trammell claimed there was no intent to commit false imprisonment, and that he should be immune from the lawsuit.

Trammell claimed that, while checking on a report of gunfire, dispatchers told him a woman at the scene was wanted on a warrant in Elkins. After the woman objected, Trammell re-checked with the dispatcher, who told him the warrant was good.

Arkansas' highest court has formed a committee to study judicial election reforms after a pair of state Supreme Court races that were overshadowed by record breaking spending from outside conservative groups.

The Supreme Court on Thursday announced it was forming a committee to look at the issue following the March 1 judicial election. The committee will include Justices Karen Baker, Courtney Goodson, Jo Hart, Rhonda Wood and Robin Wynne.

Arkansas' highest court says it won't reconsider a decision in which it said it was OK for a state university to loan $700,000 to the Oxford American literary magazine.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday denied James McCafferty's petition to rehear his lawsuit challenging the University of Central Arkansas' loan to the magazine, which is based in Little Rock. Justices last month uphold a lower court's dismissal of McCafferty's lawsuit, ruling that the funds used for the loan weren't tax dollars.

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