Arkansas Executions 2017

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An attorney for an Arkansas judge who faces sanctions for participating in a death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked the use of an execution drug says the complaint against the jurist is more about optics than it is ethics.

A judicial ethics commission on Friday held a hearing on Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's request to dismiss the complaint against him over the demonstration last year. Griffen was photographed laying on a cot outside the governor's mansion during a death penalty demonstration last year.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge charged with breaking judicial ethics rules for participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked the state from using an execution drug says a disciplinary panel should dismiss its case against him.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's attorneys renewed their May 2017 request for the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to dismiss the complaint against the judge.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A judicial disciplinary panel has charged an Arkansas judge with ethics violations for lying on a cot outside the governor's mansion during an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

Eighteen condemned inmates say in new court filings that the executions of four men in Arkansas last year exposed problems that should render the state's lethal injection procedure unconstitutional.

Citing witness accounts of what happened in the execution chamber, the inmates' lawyers say it was never clear whether the Arkansas Department of Correction followed its guidelines. They said there was no way to tell when each drug was administered and that it wasn't clear an attendant performed proper consciousness checks on each inmate.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A handful of state lawmakers are calling for Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s impeachment amid questions of his fitness to serve on the bench.

Griffen on Tuesday repeated his April 2017 protest of laying on a cot in front of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, intending to symbolize a condemned inmate on a gurney.

State Sen. Trent Garner (R-Camden), who called for Griffen’s impeachment following last year’s protest, said Griffen’s vocal objection to capital punishment is one of many questionable actions and public statements made during Griffen’s tenure.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge's efforts to obtain documents and testimony from the state Supreme Court on its decision to bar him from hearing any death penalty cases has been put on hold.

The high court asked for the delay until a federal judge decides whether to allow a lawsuit against the justices to proceed.

U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr. on Monday granted a request to temporarily stay discovery in Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's lawsuit. That suit challenges justices' decision to bar him from any cases involving the death penalty.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A lawyer for an Arkansas inmate who came within hours of being put to death last year has told the state Supreme Court that for three decades it has been misinterpreting a ruling that sets when death row inmates should have access to mental health experts.

Bruce Ward was among eight inmates set for execution last April. Justices issued a stay for him and Don Davis while the U.S. Supreme Court took up a similar case from Alabama. In arguments Thursday, lawyer Scott Braden said Ward never had access to a fully independent mental examiner.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

An Arkansas judge disqualified from handling execution cases after participating in an anti-death penalty demonstration says his lawsuit against the state's highest court should be allowed to move forward.

Attorneys for Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen asked a federal court Tuesday to deny motions by state Supreme Court justices to dismiss his lawsuit challenging his disqualification.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

The state of Arkansas has identified a New York pharmaceutical company – that doesn’t want its product used in executions – as the manufacturer of a recently acquired lethal injection drug. Arkansas was to carry out an execution Thursday night before the state Supreme Court granted an emergency stay based on questions about the mental health of death row inmate Jack Greene.

Jack Greene
Arkansas Department of Correction

The execution of Arkansas death row inmate Jack Greene has been halted by the state Supreme Court. Justices granted an emergency stay on Tuesday for the execution slated for Thursday night. Greene’s attorneys argue he suffers from extreme mental illness and wouldn’t rationally understand his execution.

His legal team asked the state’s highest court to review a lower court ruling that the state’s prison director – not a medical professional – has the authority to determine whether a person is mentally competent to stand for execution.

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