The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports, "6 on death row sue, say drugs a gamble," by John Lynch.
Six death row inmates sued the state Friday, claiming that Arkansas' new lethal injection procedure probably will not kill them.
In a lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, inmates Jason McGehee, Stacey Eugene Johnson, Jack Harold Jones, Bruce Earl Ward, Kenneth Williams, and Marcel Williams ask the court to declare the new procedure illegal and block the Arkansas Department of Corrections from using it.
The new lethal injection procedure relies on an untested drug barred by federal regulators, the inmates claim in their lawsuit.
The plan, which would use an anti-anxiety drug followed by a barbiturate, is more likely to induce uncontrollable behavioral disturbances and inflict brain damage on inmates than it is to execute them, the convicted killers argue in the 34-page suit.
They contend the drug combination is the equivalent of a science experiment, which renders it illegal.
"There is little to no data about how this combination of drugs given in this quantity will affect the prisoners," attorney Jeff Rosenzweig wrote in the lawsuit. "The 2013 Lethal Injection Procedure is totally novel and essentially amounts to carrying out an experiment on the prisoners.
"Under its new statutory authority to choose from a broad range of drugs, the [state] has chosen in its 2013 Lethal Injection Procedure a completely untried combination and quantity of drugs that will take hours to be injected and to reach their peak effect, that will produce agonizing and degrading effects during the procedure and that will severely and permanently injure - but may not kill - the prisoners," the lawsuit adds.
The case was assigned to Circuit Judge Tim Fox, who presided over the last two death row legal challenges to lethal injection procedures.
"Death-row inmates sue to void new lethal-injection law," is the Arkansas News Bureau report.
A lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of six condemned killers contends Arkansas’ new lethal injection law is unconstitutional and seeks to block executions.
The lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court contends that the new law, adopted this year in response to a state Supreme Court decision that declared a 2009 law unconstitutional, violates death-row inmates’ right to die quickly by allowing prison officials to use a slow-acting barbiturate in a mix of chemicals for lethal injections.
The law in effect when the crimes were committed required the state to use fast-acting chemicals, and the new law violates “the well-settled state law principle that a sentence must be in accordance with the statutes in effect on the date of the crime,” according to the lawsuit.
The new execution procedure authorized in Act 139, the 2013 Method of Execution Act, permits use of an anti-anxiety drug and phenobarbital, a slow-acting barbiturate. The lawsuit termed the concoction “a completely untried combination and quantity of drugs that will take hours to be injected and to reach their peak effect, that will produce agonizing and degrading effects during the procedure, and that will severely and permanently injure — but may not kill — the prisoners.”
“We’re asking for a declaration that the new statute and the procedures that have been promulgated under it are unconstitutional and illegal, and we’re asking a judge to prohibit any executions,” said Little Rock lawyer Jeff Rosenzweig.
The AP filing is, "Inmates: New Ark. execution law unconstitutional," by Chuck Bartels, via the San Francisco Chronicle.
Arkansas' just-approved execution law is as badly flawed as the version it replaced, according to a lawsuit filed Friday that argues the new law is unconstitutional and puts inmates at risk for an agonizing death.
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of six death row inmates who argue that the law approved by legislators last month still violates existing law and is unconstitutional. The Arkansas Supreme Court last year tossed out the state's previous execution law, saying the Legislature had ceded too much control to Correction Department administrators in carrying out executions.
Arkansas hasn't executed an inmate since 2005 due to court challenges, and inmates' attorney Jeff Rosenzweig said he expects this legal effort to kick around the courts for quite a while.
"I think these are meritorious claims that I think will take the courts a while to sort out. We're dealing with a brand new statute, new procedures and a lot of complicated evidentiary issues," Rosenzweig said.
The suit argues that the new procedures from the Legislature call for the use of an anti-anxiety drug and phenobarbital, a slow-acting barbiturate, in "a completely untried combination and quantity of drugs that will take hours to be injected and to reach their peak effect, that will produce agonizing and degrading effects during the procedure, and that will severely and permanently injure — but may not kill — the prisoners."
Earlier coverage of Arkansas lethal injection issues begins at the link.