Judge halts Ark. plan to execute 6 over 11 days
A federal judge on Saturday blocked Arkansas’ plan to carry out six executions over 11 days, saying the condemned inmates have a constitutional right to challenge a drug protocol that could expose them to “severe pain.”
The state’s attorney general quickly filed paperwork asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis to overturn the injunction, in an apparent effort to begin with the first execution on Monday.
The state, which has not had an execution in 12 years, had scheduled eight over a short period of time to beat the April 30 expiration date of midazolam, a key drug used in the process.
The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker, in Little Rock, comes one day after a Circuit Court judge in Pulaski County, Ark., issued a temporary restraining order barring Arkansas from using its supply of another drug — vecuronium bromide — in the executions.
After the sedative midazolam is administered, vecuronium bromide stops the breathing and potassium chloride stops the heart.