Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Circuit judge's restraining order on drug blocks all executions for now

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 7:01 PM

click to enlarge Judge Alice Gray, in court today hearing drugmaker's request to stop the state from using its product in an execution.
  • Judge Alice Gray, in court today hearing drugmaker's request to stop the state from using its product in an execution.

Pulaski Circuit Judge Alice Gray issued a temporary restraining order from the bench late Wednesday on the state's use of vecuronium bromide, the paralytic drug used in the state's three-drug execution cocktail. The order effectively blocks all executions scheduled, which Governor Hutchinson ordered to begin Thursday and continue Monday and a week from Thursday.

Gray was ruling on a complaint filed Tuesday by drugmaker McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc. seeking the restraining order "to prevent the use of our product for something other than a legitimate medical purpose."

Gray made the decision at 6:20 p.m. after hearing closing arguments and recessing into chambers at 5:45 p.m.
This is the second time a state court judge has issued a temporary restraining order on the state using vecuonium bromide in executions. In a similar complaint from McKesson, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted a temporary restraining order on Friday. Shortly after granting the order, Griffen joined an anti-death penalty protest outside the Governor's Mansion. McKesson later asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed and the restraining order vacated. On Monday, Arkansas Supreme Court vacated the order, barred Griffen from hearing any cases related to the death penalty and recommend him to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to consider whether he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Moments before Gray announced her order, the state Supreme Court granted a stay of the execution of Stacey Johnson, scheduled for tomorrow.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has said she will appeal Gray's order.

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