by Max Brantley
Circuit Judge Tim Fox ruled from the bench after a hearing today that Arkansas law giving the Arkansas Correction Department leeway to use any type of drug for lethal injections was unconstitutional.
Executions have been halted in Arkansas because of the lawsuit over executions and questions about the quality of the sodium thiopental Arkansas had on hand. That supply was turned over to federal drug officials. Fox's ruling today prevents state prison officials using their discretion in finding another execution drug if they can't properly obtain sodium thiopental. Both the state and Death Row inmates who brought the suit plan appeals of rulings in the case.
Jeff Rosenzweig, an attorney for Death Row inmates, explained that the judge found the law delegated too much authority to the Correction Department. But he said the inmates believe the ruling still leaves prison officials with too much discretion on drug choice.