About an hour before a noon deadline, the Arkansas Supreme Court today stayed Judge Wendell Griffen’s order that the state must provide information about sources of the drugs it has obtained to carry out executions.
Judge Griffen yesterday ordered the information provided by noon today. The state appealed. It contends it will be impossible to get drugs for executions if it must identify sources. Death Row inmates say a 2013 lawsuit settlement promised the information would be provided. Without information about the drugs, it’s impossible to know if the process will be in keeping with constitutional ban of cruel and unusual punishment. They also said the state faced no harm in providing information now because it has the drugs in stock.
The state has adopted a new three-drug execution protocol that includes a drug that has been said to paralyze, but not anesthetize, people being executed, meaning they suffer in silent pain before death.
The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay and set a 25-day briefing schedule on the issue of whether a stay should remain in effect while the larger issues are tried before Judge Griffen. The brief order was unsigned. It said Justice Paul Danielson dissented.
With a stay in place, no information will be released unless it is lifted or there is a decision for plaintiffs on the overarching argument that the secrecy statute, which Griffen struck down, violates several constitutional rights, including contract rights, due process and the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.