A judge has struck down Arkansas' lethal-injection law, saying it violates the state constitution's separation-of-powers provision by giving too much discretion to the Department of Correction to choose which drug will be administered.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said an execution law passed last year allows the department to choose a barbiturate but gives "no reasonable guidance" on how to do so or which to select.
"In this instance, the legislature has abdicated its responsibility," Griffen said from the bench after hearing oral arguments.
Nine death-row inmates challenge the 2013 law on multiple fronts.
Though Griffen accepted the one claim, he also rejected a claim from the inmates that the 2013 law shouldn't be applied retroactively to convictions before them.
Jeff Rosenzweig, an attorney for the inmates, said both sides would likely appeal and the issue will ultimately be decided by the state Supreme Court.
An earlier version of this story misspelled Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's name.