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Arkansas judge: Order guided by law, not execution views
20 April 2017, 01:41 | Laverne Osborne
Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson speaks to members of the press
(Arkansas Department of Correction via AP).
The court said the condemned inmate should have a chance at proving his innocence with further DNA testing.
In this Monday evening, April 17, 2017 photo, the sun sets behind. Anti-death penalty supporter Randy Gardner, right, embraces Abraham Bonowitz, left. Lee's execution is now also on hold.
The state high court decision was one of two setbacks Wednesday to Arkansas' bid to resume capital punishment after a 12-year hiatus.
Rutledge's 33-page filing came after attorneys for death-row inmates filed with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a review of a federal judge's stay that was later overturned by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Arkansas' attempt to carry out its first execution in almost 12 years wasn't thwarted by the type of liberal activist judge Republicans regularly bemoan here, but instead by a state Supreme Court that's been the focus of expensive campaigns by conservative groups to reshape the judiciary.
The state originally scheduled two inmates to die Monday night, but those executions were not carried out because of a separate stay issued by the Arkansas Supreme Court. An appeal is possible.
Most often those lawyers press their arguments at the highest court in the country in a final attempt to save their clients' lives.
While the executions are on stay in Arkansas, the state said it will fight back from the ruling.
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Don Davis and Bruce Ward were supposed to be the first two executed. So "the effect, no matter how you word it, is to stay the executions", and circuit courts in Arkansas have no authority to do so, he said.
The state had earlier planned to execute eight inmates over 10 days starting April 17, before Arkansas' supply of the drug runs out at the end of the month.
That leaves five men set for execution in an eight-day period starting Thursday. It's the quickest timetable in Arkansas since 1926, though state officials say waiting more than two decades to put some of the killers to death could hardly be characterized as swift.
According to KARK, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is weighing her legal options in responding to the court's decision to stay Johnson's execution.
Johnson, a black man, was sentenced for the 1993 murder of a white woman.
"We've established that modern DNA testing methods can prove Mr. Johnson's innocence, and Arkansas law clearly established that Mr. Johnson is entitled to that testing", said Karen Thompson, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project, on Tuesday after the appeal was filed.
Thursday's double execution is scheduled to start around 7 p.m., barring intervention through any of several ongoing lawsuits. They instead will rely again on whether the sedative midazolam could present a risk of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution. "Lee and identify the real perpetrator of the crime".
The court had indicated earlier this year that it might view the death penalty more favorably, ruling to allow Arkansas to keep many details of its lethal injection drugs secret.
Pharmaceuticals companies and other suppliers have objected to their drugs being used in executions and have been trying to stop states from getting supplies for lethal injections.
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