The Arkansas Department of Correction's supply of midazolam, one of three drugs in the state's lethal-injection protocol, expires April 30.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued the temporary restraining order against the state of Arkansas, stopping the scheduled executions until further notice.
The state still must overcome other court orders blocking the inmates' executions if it is to carry out any of the lethal injections it had scheduled for the last two weeks of April. Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Jessica Brand, the Fair Punishment Project's legal director, about her group's findings.
The state adopted its protocol to use midazlolam, one of the three drugs in the state's lethal cocktail, in 2015.
Hutchinson said he would prefer to extend the period but that the state might not be able to find another drug to follow out the executions. Davis had filed his own legal challenges about his mental competencies - his lawyer said Davis has an IQ of 70 - but a federal judge rejected his stay request on Easter Sunday.
The state has not said whether it will appeal a federal judge's decision to grant a stay to another inmate, Jason McGehee, who had won a clemency recommendation from the state Parole Board.
Hours before the first execution was scheduled to begin, fights continued on several fronts in state and federal court.
"To protect the integrity of the judicial system this court has a duty to ensure that all are given a fair and impartial tribunal", said the Arkansas Supreme Court in its order.
Leslie Rutledge's office filed an emergency motion with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday morning. Griffen participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration after issuing the ruling Friday.
4 dead of injuries consistent with methods used by gang
Emergency vehicles are parked near the site where four bodies were discovered in Central Islip, N.Y., Thursday, April 13, 2017. His brother told the Post he recently found messages on Tigre's computer reading, "I don't want to do these things anymore".
"It is unfortunate that a US district judge has chosen to side with the convicted prisoners in one of their many last-minute attempts to delay justice", said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the office.
Griffen's participation in Friday's protest outside the governor's mansion sparked outrage among death penalty supporters, including Republican lawmakers who described it as judicial misconduct and potential grounds for Griffen's removal from the bench.
State officials, in a filing Saturday, said that an order preventing them from using the vecuronium bromide would essentially halt all of the executions, noting that they have been unable to obtain more.
Ward was convicted of killing a convenience store clerk. In a petition to that court, Ward's attorneys described him as a diagnosed schizophrenic who has spent decades in solitary confinement without treatment for his mental illness and argued that he was not competent to be executed.
The lawyer would have to leave the room to use the telephone if he or she needed to file a petition during the execution, leaving inmates without counsel present, Baker said.
"The threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs is significant", she wrote, "if midazolam does not adequately anesthetize plaintiffs, or if their executions are 'botched, ' they will suffer severe pain before they die". Judge Baker embraced arguments by the eight prisoners whose executions had been scheduled, plus one other death row inmate, that the state's reliance on midazolam, as an execution drug posed a risk to their constitutional rights.
The state of Arkansas appealed and has asked for a quick decision. Arkansas hasn't carried out a double execution since 1999.
"Immediate reversal is warranted", Arkansas' solicitor general, Lee Rudofsky, wrote Saturday in the state's appeal to the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit. But they are on a tight schedule: Executions were scheduled to begin Monday night, and if the legal proceedings take more than two weeks, the midazolam supply will have expired before any of the executions can take place.