Arkansas inmates ask appeals court to review part of ruling

Arkansas inmates who had been set for execution this month want a federal appeals court to take up their claim that the compressed timetable would violate "evolving standards of decency".

But U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued an injunction Saturday (April 15), amid arguments that the lethal injection cocktail may not work, and could therefore amount to "cruel and unusual punishment". The state is racing against the clock to beat the expiration date of a lethal injection drug, and planned to begin executions Monday (April 17), reports NBC News.

Despite several court rulings that put its plans in jeopardy, Arkansas hopes to go ahead with the executions of six men between Monday and April 27, which would be a pace exceeded only by Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976.

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Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is planning to appeal Baker's decision.

His attorneys argued in their lawsuit filed March 29 that Ward is unfit for execution because he suffers from schizophrenia, but Ms. Rutledge accused the defense of trying to game the system.

A different federal judge has issued a stay for one of the eight condemned prisoners and the state Supreme Court has issued one for another inmate. The state is also seeking to overturn Griffen's order regarding the state's supply of vecuronium bromide. Any decision there would likely also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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On Friday, death row inmate Bruce Ward's execution was stayed. But the ruling did not change the situation because Baker's order had already halted all the executions.

"The schedule of imposed on these officials, as well as their lack of recent execution experience, causes concern" Baker wrote in her order Saturday.

This combination of file photos provided by the Arkansas. She said the issue about midazolam has been addressed in prior court cases.

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People gather at a rally opposing the state's upcoming executions, on the front steps of Arkansas' Capitol, Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark.


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