U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Arkansas death penalty case | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Arkansas death penalty case

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 10:42 AM

CLEARED FOR USE: State execution chamber.
  • CLEARED FOR USE: State execution chamber.
The United States Supreme Court has declined to review the Arkansas Supreme Court decision clearing the lethal injection procedure for condemned prisoners in Arkansas.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said promptly that the decision means executions can move forward once the Arkansas Supreme Court issues a mandate in the case and the governor sets execution dates.

Resumption remains somewhat problematic because of the expiration of one of three drugs used in the process. At last report, a new batch had not been obtained.

In a 4-3 split, the Arkansas court had rejected claims that condemned inmates should be allowed to know the suppliers of execution drugs and that there was a potential for cruel and unusual punishment from drugs from an unknown supplier. Use of the three-drug cocktail has encountered botched efforts in some states.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has moved quickly to set execution dates when able. Nine inmates joined the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's been 11 years since an execution in Arkansas. There are 34 inmates on Death Row. Execution dates had been set for eight before court challenges and drug questions caused those dates to pass without executions.

A question on the Correction Department drug supply brought this response:

Our supply remains unchanged. We will move forward with preparations when appropriate.
The dates on the drug supplies:

* The potassium chloride expired in January 2017
* The midazolam expires in April 2017
* The vercuronium bromide expires March 2018

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissented from the decision not to hear the case, in keeping with objections in other death penalty cases.  They referred to a case from Alabama, in which they outlined their objections in an 18-page dissent.

Sotomayor wrote in that case:

Nearly two years ago in Glossip v. Gross, the Court issued a macabre challenge. In order to
successfully attack a State’s method of execution as cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment, a condemned prisoner must not only prove that the State’s chosen method risks severe pain, but must also propose a “knownand available” alternative method for his own execution.

Petitioner Thomas Arthur, a prisoner on Alabama’s death row, has met this challenge. He has amassed significant evidence that Alabama’s current lethal-injection protocol will result in intolerable and needless agony, and he has proposed an alternative—death by firing squad.

The Court of Appeals, without considering any of the evidence regarding the risk posed by the current protocol, denied Arthur’s claim because Alabama law does not expressly permit execution by firing squad, and so it cannot be a “known and available” alternative under Glossip.

Because this decision permits States to immunize their methods of execution—no matter how cruel or how unusual—from judicial review and thus permits state law to subvert the Federal Constitution, I would grant certiorari

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • City plans more spending on 30 Crossing

    The Little Rock City Board meets Tuesday to set an agenda for the following week and among the "consent" items is a new $175,000 with Nelson/Nygaard consultants to "assist with a comprehensive review" of the 30 Crossing project, otherwise known as the bigger concrete ditch the Department of Transportation wants to tear through the heart of Little Rock.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • NFL owners rise to defense of players against Trump and false patriots

    Many football team owners have risen to the defense of players against Donald Trump criticism as yet another racially fraught issue seems likely to gain increasing heat thanks to Trump's rhetoric.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • The school crisis at 60: A light show and light cast on the lack of progress

    The 60th school crisis anniversary observance continues with a spectacular light show and some sobering thoughts on just what was accomplished and how much progress has been made in theintervening six decades.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • 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
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation