The Arkansas Supreme Court today stayed the execution of Jack Greene. You can read their order here
. It was a 5 to 2 vote, Justices Rhonda Wood and Shawn Womack would have denied the request.
There is no reason given for the stay, but it comes in response to an appeal by Greene's lawyers after their case — arguing their client should be given a competency hearing — was dismissed by Judge Jodi Dennis earlier this week.
Lawyers argued that Greene is incompetent to be executed and that rules which give the prison director discretion in determining competency are unconstitutional
"Today’s order means that our client, Jack Greene, will have the opportunity to make the case that he should receive an independent hearing about his competency for execution," Scott Braden, one of Greene's lawyers said in a statement.
UPDATE (5:23) Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas's Attorney General, said she will not appeal through a spokesperson. And, separately, released the following statement: "With no written order or explanation provided, the Arkansas Supreme Court has once again delayed justice for the family of Sidney Burnett. I will continue to fight for justice for Sidney Burnett and to give the Burnett family the closure they deserve.”
UPDATE (5:54 p.m.) Governor Asa Hutchinson issued this response to the Supreme Court's decision:
“I am surprised by the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to issue an emergency stay of execution for Jack Greene,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Last-minute delays are always very difficult and only prolong the justice the Burnett family was promised more than 20 years ago.
The Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the execution of Bruce Ward, in April — when the state famously scheduled 8 men to die in just 11 days — to determine a similar question. Both Greene and Ward, lawyers have argued, were not given fully independent hearings to determine their competency.
“Mr. Greene’s mental health must be the subject of a fair competency hearing with a neutral decision maker. We look forward to seeking such a hearing for Mr. Greene, whose severe mental illness is well-documented," Braden said.
Greene was convicted for
the murder of Sidney Burnett that prosecutors have described as horrific: a man bond, beaten with a can of hominy and tortured.
This comes after a flurry of legal filings today on Greene's case which we've written about here
Beyond the filings in Greene's case, Judge Mackie Pierce ordered the state Correction Department to provide a drug manufacturer's label for the midazolam sedative to be used in the now stayed execution
. He'll be holding a hearing Wednesday on what needs to be redacted.