Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen
this morning denied the state's request that he dissolve a restraining order that prevents the state from proceeding with scheduled executions of eight men
convicted of capital crimes. The order also denied the state's request for an expedited hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction
, now set for March 1.
He said the state's claim that the order was issued without notice last week was groundless because plaintiffs had made plain from the beginning they'd seek injunctive relief over the state's alleged failure to provide promised information about drugs used in executions. The plans were so plain, the judge wrote, that the state's assertion to the contrary couldn't be termed an oversight. Rather, it was "categorically false."
The judge found, on account of that, the state appears to have violated the portion of Rule 11 of the civil procedure rules pertaining to the requirement that pleadings by factual and warranted. He gave the state 14 days to explain why it should not be found in violation of the rule. Sanctions, in addition to dismissal of the motion, could include an order to pay opponents' expenses; payment of penalty to a court, or a referral to the Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct.
The judge also put in boldface at the beginning of the order that the temporary restraining order was to remain in effect pending a preliminary injunction hearing in March. The state had given an indication it believed the judge's temporary order would expire Oct. 23.
Here's the order.
I've sought a comment from the attorney general. I don't think we've seen the end of legal pleadings on this matter. UPDATE: The attorney general is "considering her options," a spokesman said.
Next up, barring an interim appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court, is the state's decision on whether it will provide information about execution drugs sought by plaintiffs or if it will seek a protective order.
UPDATE: The state will ask the Supreme Court to overrule the judge. It argues that the long delay for the temporary restraining order amounts to an injunction.