Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
has set a hearing March 1 on nine Death Row inmates'
lawsuit seeking information about drugs the state has obtained to carry out their executions. Last week, the judge halted scheduled executions until the hearing could be held.
The judge ordered the state to either identify or object to disclosure of the manufacturer, seller, distributor and supplier of any lethal injection drugs by Oct. 21. The state may seek a protective order, he said, but must "set forth with particularity and provide any supplemental information defendants desire the court to consider regarding any facts or circumstances bearing on the motion for protective order."
He ordered the state to produce for plaintiffs' lawyers and the court un-redacted package inserts, shipping labels, laboratory test results and product warnings pertaining to any drugs to be administered during plaintiffs' executions.
He ordered completion of discovery of evidence by Jan. 10 and an exchange of witness litss by Feb. 15.
Absent a successful effort by the state to get the Arkansas Supreme Court to override the temporary order Griffen entered Friday, this of course means another execution in Arkansas is manyb months away, even if the judge turns down the condemned inmates' bid to find out more about the methods of their execution. Those facts were made secret by 2015 state legislation, despite the state's agreement in an earlier lawsuit to provide the information.
Here's the judge's order.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently set execution dates for eight inmates —Don Davis, Bruce War, Stacey Johnson, Terrick Nooner, Jack Jones, Marcell Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason McGehee. A ninth Death Row inmate, Ledell Lee, also is a plaintiff though he had no scheduled execution yet.
UPDATE: The state isn't lying down. It argues that the judge erred
in issuing a temporary restraining order, which hadn't specifically been requested by plaintiffs. They wanted summary judgment or a prelliminary injunction. The state says the judge should dissolve that order and hold a hearing soon, as early as next week.
The inmates' attorneys responded forcefully to the state's contention
it hadn't received adequate notice of the request for injunctive relief and to the argument that the temporary order should expire Oct. 23. Because the state suggested that they might disobey the temporary order after its alleged expiration Oct. 23, the plaintiffs asked the judge to "emphatically" make it clear that executions are delayed at least until March.