In its 4-3 ruling in the Johnson case, the state's highest court followed the same split it did on Monday, when it halted two other executions involving different inmates, Bruce Ward and Don Davis. They include Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson, who are set for execution Thursday night. Jeremy Hutchinson, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Like many U.S. states, Arkansas has struggled to find the drugs it needs to carry out executions.
Since the overturning of the court decisions, new suits have popped up. Thus for Fox to imply that the planned executions are opposed merely by "critics" is a gross understatement of the legal challenges ADC is facing.
"There are five scheduled executions remaining with nothing preventing them from occurring, but I will continue to respond to any and all legal challenges brought by the prisoners", Rutledge said. This combination of undated photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Stacey E. Johnson, left, and Ledell Lee. Lee was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing Debra Reese with a tire iron in February 1993 in Jacksonville. Hutchinson says he wants a clear explanation from the court majority as to how they came to the decision.
The inmates argue the state's execution drug protocol would cause cruel and unusual punishment, violating their 8th Amendment rights.
The candidates backed by the conservative groups won both races. One of those winners voted for Monday's night stay.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Two Arkansas inmates set to die this week in a double execution filed more legal challenges Wednesday, but so far the pair is hitting roadblocks as a judge weighs a new attempt to prevent the state from using one of its lethal injection drugs in what would be the state's first executions in almost a dozen years.
Gray sided with McKesson Corp., which had argued that it sold Arkansas the drug for medical use, not executions, and that it would suffer harm financially and to its reputation if the executions were carried out.
It's unclear whether the new execution obstacles would have any political fallout for the court.More news: Funds to help fight diseases
After criminal defense attorney Yodit Tewolde explained that "for Arkansas to try to rush executions for the sake of a drug expiring at the end of the month is disrespectful to the intent of justice in this case", Scott ignored her point and flippantly remarked that it "seems odd" to characterize the response to a crime that happened in 1992 as a "rush to judgment".
Her two young children were at home at the time.
Gray's ruling mirrors one last week from Pulaski County circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who also blocked Arkansas from using the vecuronium bromide.
Arkansas' supply of a lethal injection drug expires at the end of April. Three of those inmates have since received stays.
In a separate action on Tuesday, lawyers for all eight inmates filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt all the executions on issues including drug protocols and access to counsel.
Lee and Johnson both faced setbacks Tuesday in their quest to get more DNA tests on evidence in hopes of proving their innocence.
"The families are entitled to closure and finality of the law", wrote Justice Shawn Womack, a former Republican legislator whose rival a year ago was also targeted by conservative groups. His attorneys appealed the ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
"We are grateful and relieved" at the ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court regarding Stacey Johnson", said Innocence Project senior staff attorney Nina Morrison, whose group is defending Johnson.