The Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday granted the state's request to temporarily put on hold a judge's order to turn over information about the source of its execution drugs.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen had ordered the release of the information Thursday, siding with death row inmates who challenged in a lawsuit the constitutionality of the secrecy portion of the state's execution law. Griffen said that drug suppliers do not have a constitutional right to be free from criticism.
The Arkansas attorney general's office asked for the stay late Thursday, and has said it will appeal Griffen's overall ruling.
The state's high court, granted the temporary stay an hour before a noon deadline to release the information, had previously issued an order putting eight scheduled executions on hold until the lawsuit could be heard.
The inmates have argued that without disclosure of the source of the drugs and other information they had no way to determine whether the midazolam, vecuronium bromide or potassium chloride obtained by the state would lead to cruel and unusual punishment.
The inmates also argued that the secrecy law violates a settlement in an earlier lawsuit that guaranteed inmates would be given the information. The state has said that agreement is not a binding contract.
The inmates responded early Friday saying the state had not proven it would be irreparably harmed by the disclosure because it already has the drugs.
Earlier this year, The Associated Press identified three pharmaceutical companies that likely made Arkansas' execution drugs; each company said it objects to its drugs being used that way. Midazolam, a sedative, gained notoriety after being used during executions that took longer than expected last year in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma. The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the drug's use in executions.
The Associated Press