LR attorney to Senate committee: ready to file suit over lethal injection agreement breach | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 27, 2015

LR attorney to Senate committee: ready to file suit over lethal injection agreement breach

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Little Rock attorney Jeff Rosenzweig, a long-time death penalty opponent, has sent a letter to members of the Senate State Agencies Committee, pointing out that the drug-provider secrecy provisions of HB1751, which seeks to tweak the drug cocktail used to execute prisoners in the state, would put the Arkansas in breach of a signed 2013 agreement between Rosenzweig and a former Chief Deputy Attorney General, in which the state — in exchange for Rosenzweig "dropping certain parts of the lethal injection lawsuit" —  agreed to provide Rosenzweig with "the relevant information regarding the [execution] drugs," including packing slips which show where the drugs originated.

A shortage of the drugs traditionally used in lethal injections has many states looking for an alternative, sometimes with horrifying results. 

HB1751, by Rep. Douglas House (R - North Little Rock) states that the "entities and persons" who participate in the Arkansas execution process and/or who "compound, test, sell or supply the drug or drugs" used in lethal injection executions will be kept secret.  

You can read the agreement signed by Rosenzweig and then

"There is no question that this bill would place the State in breach of that contract," Rosenzweig wrote to the committee. As such, Rosenzweig further writes, "we already have drafted a complaint that will be ready to file on the day this law is signed. The secrecy provision is invalid not only because it contradicts the State's contract obligations but also because it violates the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. No court is going to allow the ADC to take back promises it made in a binding contract. So, this provision is not going to get executions started back up again but will instead — again — tie the State up in pointless and wasteful litigation for years."

You can read Rosenzweig's letter to the committee below: 



Members of the Senate State Agencies Committee:

The lethal injection bill passed the House yesterday. I understand this is on your agenda for Monday morning, March 30. Below is some information that I think it is important that you have so you can think about it over the weekend.

BREACH OF CONTRACT

There are some problems with this bill, particularly dealing with the secrecy provisions. These provisions renege upon and illegally abrogate the agreement (contract, if you will) between the death-sentenced prisoners and the State, in particular the ADC and the Attorney General. I have attached the agreement. It is signed by me and by then-Chief Deputy AG Brad Phelps in 2013. In exchange for our dropping certain parts of the lethal injection lawsuit (another part of which was just decided by the state Supreme Court), they agreed to provide us the relevant information regarding the drugs, including the packing slips It is paragraph 6 of the agreement which I have attached. A packing slip is a document which says who the drugs are from. I am also attaching the packing slips we received in that litigation so you can see what we were referring to. There is no question that this bill would place the State in breach of that contract. This breach has constitutional consequences. For example, and not by way of limitation, Art 2 Sec. 17 of the Arkansas Constitution states:

17. Attainder; ex post facto laws; impairment of contract
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts shall ever be passed; and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.


I have talked with the sponsor of the bill. As I understand it, he thinks that the legislature can trump a contract that the State has already signed. This is an interesting and erroneous position. I wonder what roadbuilders who sign contracts with the Highway Department would think of that.

LITIGATION

In that regard, we already have drafted a complaint that will be ready to file on the day this law is signed. The secrecy provision is invalid not only because it contradicts the State's contract obligations but also because it violates the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. No court is going to allow the ADC to take back promises it made in a binding contract. So, this provision is not going to get executions started back up again but will instead — again — tie the State up in pointless and wasteful litigation for years.

EXECUTION SECRECY AND PROBABILITY OF STATE EMBARRASSMENT

This provision, if by some happenstance it is enacted and upheld, risks both a botched execution and an international spectacle. The bill, as I read it, allows the State to obtain drugs from some sort of self-accredited compounding group. This is not too far from a previous supplier to the State—-an operation run out of the back room of a driving school in England. The use of compounded drugs has resulted in botched and inhumane executions in other states. This was not only unfair to the condemned but embarrassing to the State. The only way to ensure that using compounded drugs doesn't result in a botched execution is to thoroughly vet the compounding pharmacist who is making the drugs. We cannot do that if all information that could lead to the disclosure of his/her identity is made a secret.


Jeff Rosenzweig

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • Tough mothers, demanding action

    Interest in the gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action has exploded since the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. Leaders here say they're in the battle for 'gun sense' until the job is done.
    • Apr 5, 2018
  • The Griffin

    El Dorado's new restaurant showplace is worth the drive.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • Arkansas's medical marijuana growers come to light

    Four counties, five companies, lots of jobs in the cannabis business.
    • Mar 8, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Satanic Temple: Make Rapert pay for Ten Commandments monument

    A petition drive has begun to encourage a demand that Sen. Jason Rapert pay for the legal fees in defending his Ten Commandments monument proposed for the state Capitol grounds. It's more work by the Satanic Temple, which has fought church-state entanglement around the country.
    • Aug 28, 2016
  • A response to police arrests becomes a tutorial on race, class and policing in Little Rock

    John Walker, the 79-year-old civil rights lawyer, and his associate, Omavi Shukur, 29, a young lawyer devoted to criminal justice reform, talked to press this afternoon about their arrests Monday by Little Rock police for supposedly obstructing governmental operations in observing and attempting to film a routine police traffic stop. It was a tutorial on sharp views of race, class and governance in Little Rock.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Donald Trump declares war on Hillary Clinton's marriage

    Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he declared open season on the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton's past infidelity. Seems like a loser, but I've been wrong before.
    • Oct 1, 2016

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

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