Key dates in legal challenges to Arkansas' execution law

AP News
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Posted: Jun 23, 2016 3:41 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the state's execution secrecy law, which keeps confidential information about lethal injection drugs and suppliers. It's the latest in the long, multifaceted legal battle over the constitutionality of the execution law in Arkansas, which has not put an inmate to death in more than 10 years because of the legal challenges.

Here are key dates to know:

Nov. 28, 2005 — Eric Nance, convicted of killing an 18-year-old woman, is the last person to be executed in Arkansas before the legal wrangling begins.

June 22, 2012 — The Arkansas Supreme Court rules in favor of a group of death row inmates, saying that the state's existing execution law cedes too much power to the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Feb. 20, 2013 — Gov. Mike Beebe signs the Legislature's update to the state's execution law to address the court's concerns.

April 26, 2013 — Attorneys for several death row inmates file a challenge to the rewritten execution law.

June 14, 2014 — A partial settlement agreement is signed between the inmates and the Arkansas Department of Correction, in which Arkansas agrees to provide information about the maker, supplier and other details about its execution drugs to the inmates. The Arkansas Supreme Court later upholds the remaining portion of the state's execution law not included in the settlement,

April 6, 2015 — Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs a revised law that allows the Arkansas Department of Correction to keep secret the maker, supplier and other details about its execution drugs. A group of inmates file a federal challenge, but withdraw it in favor of later filing in state court.

June 29, 2015 — A group of death row inmates, including eight whose criminal appeals have been exhausted, file a lawsuit alleging portions of the state's execution law and its secrecy provision are unconstitutional.

July 1, 2015 — The Arkansas Department of Correction receives enough midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride to perform eight executions.

Sept. 9, 2015 — Hutchinson sets four dates for double executions, with the first two planned for Oct. 21.

Sept. 18, 2015 — The Associated Press identifies the likely manufacturers of the state's lethal injection drugs, including midazolam from London-based Hikma Pharmaceuticals, which had previously ended its sales contract with the state because of a previous attempt to use one of its subsidiaries' drugs in executions.

Oct. 9, 2015— Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen stays the eight scheduled executions. The state later appeals that order to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Oct. 12, 2015— Griffen orders the state to release the makers, suppliers and other information about the state's execution drugs or submit a request for a protective order. The state chooses to petition for the protective order, asking that if the information is released, it only be given to the inmates' attorneys.

Oct. 20, 2015 — The Arkansas Supreme Court says Griffen overstepped his jurisdiction by putting executions on hold until he heard the case. The justices then issued their own stay on the execution dates until the inmates' constitutional challenge could be heard.

Dec. 3, 2015 — Griffen strikes down the secrecy portion of Arkansas' execution law, denies the state's request for a protective order and mandates it release the supplier and maker of execution drugs by noon the next day.

Dec. 4, 2015 — The Arkansas Supreme Court issues a temporary stay of Griffen's order and sets deadlines for written court briefs.

May 19, 2016 — Attorneys for the state and the inmates argue their case before the Arkansas Supreme Court, six weeks before the state's supply of vecuronium bromide is set to expire on June 30. The drug's supplier has said it will not sell the state more.

June 23, 2016 — The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds the state's execution secrecy law, saying that disclosing drug information is "detrimental" to the execution process.