The Arkansas Supreme Court ruling in Jones v. Hobbs is at the link.
"Court: Six death-row inmates no longer under stays of execution," is the Arkansas News Bureau report.
The stays of execution previously issued by the state Supreme Court for six death-row inmates are no longer in place, the court ruled Thursday.
The court also said the inmates will have to take their case to circuit court if they want to challenge the state’s recently passed lethal-injection law.
The high court made the ruling in the case of inmates Jack Harold Jones, Marcel Williams, Jason McGehee, Don Davis, Bruce Ward and Stacey Johnson. The six had been under stays of execution that the Supreme Court granted in 2010 while the inmates challenged the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection procedure.
Last year, the court ruled that the state’s lethal-injection law gave too much discretion to the director of the state Department of Correction, in violation of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers. In response, the state Legislature passed Act 139 of 2013, which sets forth the types of drugs the department can use for lethal injections and the procedures the department must use for carrying out the death penalty.
“We conclude that a circuit court would have jurisdiction of a constitutional challenge advanced by petitioners regarding the newly enacted Act 139, ” the court said in the order. ”For these reasons, (state’s) motion to lift stays of execution is moot, and we deny petitioner’s request to take the matter as a case.”
"With stays dissolved, Ark. to pursue executions," is by AP writer Kelly P. Kissel, via the Stuttgart Leader.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel expects to take steps soon toward Arkansas' first execution since 2005 after the state's highest court ruled Thursday that stays issued years ago were automatically dissolved when a former execution law was ruled unconstitutional.
The state Supreme Court ruled that stays granted to six inmates in 2010 were voided last year when justices ruled that Arkansas legislators had given the Correction Department too much control over execution procedures. Legislators passed a new law last month, but justices Thursday rejected a request by attorneys to review the law before it is challenged in lower courts.
McDaniel's office will soon certify to Gov. Mike Beebe that there are no other legal impediments to resuming executions, spokesman Aaron Sadler wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
"We anticipate sending letters to the governor in the coming days," Sadler said, but noted there was no set time frame.
Attorney Jeff Rosenzweig said he and other lawyers for the condemned inmates would file whatever responses were necessary to protect the men's rights.
The Wall Street Journal reports, "Arkansas Moves Closer to Executing Eight Inmates," by Jacob Gershman.
Siding with the state, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that stays of execution for six inmates that were granted in 2010 are dissolved now that the state has adopted a new lethal-injection statute that replaced one found to be unconstitutional.
The decision authorizes the attorney general’s office to ask Gov. Mike Beebe to issue “proclamations” that would set execution dates for a total of eight inmates who’ve exhausted their appeals. And it means that to postpone the executions, the inmates would have to start again in trial court with a new lawsuit challenging the law.
A spokesman for Mr. Beebe told Law Blog that the governor expects to issue the warrants once it gets the requests from Mr. McDaniel.
Last summer, the state’s highest court ruled that lawmakers had delegated far too much authority to the executive branch over picking the lethal drugs used in executions. In February, the Legislature passed a new law that they said fixed that separation-of-powers problem.
“To address objections to the method of lethal injection previously provided by law, the General Assembly finds that it should adopt a method of lethal injection that uses a barbiturate to bring about the death of the condemned prisoner,” the new statute states.
The old law had given the correction department freedom to pick any substance it wanted, according to the court.
"Challenge new execution law in lower court, justices tell 6 condemned," by Sean Beherec for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The six death-row inmates who successfully challenged the state’s old death-penalty statute must take their challenge of the new death-penalty statute to a lower court before a higher court hears it, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Earlier coverage of Arkansas lethal injection issues begins at the link.