State Supreme Court strikes down law on chemical executions | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 22, 2012

State Supreme Court strikes down law on chemical executions

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 9:20 AM

The Arkansas Supreme Court today agreed with a circuit court and said the legislature had "abdicated its responsibility" in giving the Arkansas Correction Department "unfettered" discretion over execution procedures, including choice of chemicals to be used in lethal injections.

Here's the decision in the case brought by Death Row inmates.

The Supreme Court said that a lower court's effort to cure problems with the statute by striking certain portions of the language pertaining to use of "any other chemical" had failed to make it constitutional. The section was not severable, the court said. This leaves it to the legislature to pass a constitutional statute governing executions, a decision that means a continued delay in executions in Arkansas. The legislature meets in 2013. Gov. Mike Beebe said he wouldn't call a special session to deal with the issue.

“The death penalty is still the law in Arkansas, but the Department of Correction now has no legal way to carry out an execution until a new statute is established,” Beebe said. Beebe will meet with legislators and the attorney general about solutions. The law that was struck down was passed in 2009. A 1983 execution procedures law had been used successfully.

A prosecutor in Fort Smith, invoking the spirit of Hanging Judge Parker, said he wants action right now to provide for "certainty" of punishment, even though the ruling doesn't invalidate the death penalty.

Arkansas currently has 40 men on Death Row. The last execution was Nov. 28, 2005. The lawsuits over execution practices have stopped them since, along with other usual appeals.

The court did lift an injunction on obtaining sodium thiopental from illegal sources because the lawsuit had only argued against use of previously obtained supplies of the drug. They have been destroyed and the issue is moot, the court said.

Justices Karen Baker and Byron Freeland dissented from the 4-2 ruling (Justice Donald Corbin didn't participate). Baker wrote that Arkansas is the only state with legal executions that has found such a separation of powers violation, though other states also have delegated execution procedural powers to correction officials.

Tags: , , ,


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Your daily dose of Jason Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert really, really didn't like it when a KATV reporter asked him about the hypocrisy of his political arguments.
    • Feb 4, 2017
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017


Most Viewed

  • French Hill carefully vetting crowd for Mike Pence visit

    Mike Pence will appear at a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill today in Little Rock and the campaign is monitoring carefully who'll be allowed to attend or cover the event. Hill is running a hide-and-seek campaign, making himself available only in safe settings. Maybe 1,200 of the right sort of people will atternd.
  • Marijuana makes Harding University grad a billionaire

    Meet a new Arkansas-native billionaire — Michael Blue, who grew up in Searcy and graduated from Harding University. He owes his wealth to marijuana.
  • Are the Razorbacks out of their league?

    Ouch. The Southeastern Conference football schedule hasn't yet begun and the New York Times offers an article suggesting the Arkansas Razorbacks aren't up to playing in the league.
  • Demonstrators on hand for French Hill rally with Mike Pence

    Demonstrators have been allowed near the front door of the Statehouse Convention Center where carefully screened guests will be enjoying Mike Pence's endorsement of Republican Rep. French Hill. Plenty of security and I think it might be more fun outside.
  • DEA reports 1,200 drug arrests in statewide operation

    The Drug Enforcement Administration announced today that state and federal agencies had arrested 1,260 people since July in Operation Task Force Arkansas, a statewide push to catch violent drug traffickers.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation