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Comments made by a circuit judge in court rulings that halted scheduled executions for eight inmates were "inappropriate," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday.

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Notice to appeal execution ruling

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Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said in a Tuesday court order that the state's motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order on the executions was "categorically false," "unwarranted" and "factually groundless."

When contacted Wednesday, Griffen said he could not comment on the governor's remarks because of the pending lawsuit.

The court case was filed in June by nine inmates -- eight of whom Hutchinson had scheduled for execution in the coming weeks -- in an effort to force the state prison system to reveal its source when purchasing execution drugs.

After holding a hearing on a motion last week from lawyers from state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office to dismiss the case, Griffen issued a temporary halt to the executions and ordered the state to disclose the source of the execution drugs.

The state responded by filing a motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order and to allow the executions to continue. Griffen denied that request on Tuesday -- at which point the state appealed the decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court and asked for an expedited hearing.

Hutchinson discussed the case with reporters Wednesday after a news conference where he proposed a 10-year plan to reduce obesity in the state.

"I thought the judge's comments and approach was [sic] inappropriate," Hutchinson said. "I am delighted that the attorney general sought to appeal that to the Supreme Court very quickly. This is a decision that should be substantively discussed and ultimately decided by the Supreme Court."

Hutchinson also said he was "confused" by Griffen's order that the state disclose the identity of the execution drugs' manufacturers and suppliers given that Arkansas Act 1096 of 2015 makes it illegal to do so.

The confidentiality is the main point of contention in the lawsuit, the governor said.

"H̶e̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶b̶a̶s̶i̶c̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶t̶e̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶v̶i̶o̶l̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶a̶w̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶r̶u̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶t̶h̶e̶r̶

̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶a̶w̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶s̶t̶i̶t̶u̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶,̶"̶ ̶H̶u̶t̶c̶h̶i̶n̶s̶o̶n̶ ̶s̶a̶i̶d̶.̶

Hutchinson said Griffen is basically telling the state to violate the law without ruling on whether the law is constitutional.*

Metro on 10/15/2015

*CORRECTION: This article about Gov. Asa Hutchinson's reaction to a ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen misidentified a paraphrased comment from the governor as a direct quote. Griffen ordered the state to disclose manufacturers and suppliers of execution drugs. The article should have stated:

Hutchinson said Griffen is basically telling the state to violate the law without ruling on whether the law is constitutional.

Print Headline: Governor slams comments made by Judge Griffen

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Archived Comments

  • Stingray74
    October 15, 2015 at 7:16 a.m.

    Since I am no grammarian - would some enlightened soul tell me what is incorrect in the statement by the Governor that warrants [sic] by Ms. Roberts??

  • PopMom
    October 15, 2015 at 7:44 a.m.

    Stingray,

    Asa should have used "were." A compound subject connected by "and" needs a plural verb. The only exception is when the compound subject usually is thought of as singular, such as "bread and butter" or "macaroni and cheese."

  • Popsmith
    October 15, 2015 at 8:14 a.m.

    Just hire Texas to execute them and save the legal fees.

  • PM1118
    October 15, 2015 at 9:23 a.m.

    Asa does have a public hissy fit when anyone disagrees with him. Guess "inappropriate" has come to mean "contrary to the gov's opinion"!

  • LR1955
    October 15, 2015 at 9:29 a.m.

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has let loose many newly accused criminals that have lengthy past records. He is definitely a "friend of the criminal". Look at many of the crime report articles in the AR Dem Gaz and you'll see what I mean.

  • RobertBolt
    October 15, 2015 at 9:31 a.m.

    Apparently, Asa's thoughtful approach to reduce obesity in Arkansas is to execute overweight prisoners any way he wants, and he gets confused and angry when that mouthy judge slows him down.

  • nabubsbcglobalnet
    October 15, 2015 at 10:38 a.m.

    Kudos to Governor Hutchinson, these lowlife maggets have sat on death row way to long.Why should they be allowed to live so long , after causing so much pain to so many people? I think if they have a problem with the execution drugs , give them the option of the electric chair or firing squad.But make them decide fast , because they don't deserve to live even as long as they have..

  • HarleyOwner
    October 15, 2015 at 11:23 a.m.

    Popsmith has the right idea. Since Texas doesn't have a problem executing prisoners, create "con air" and fly those thugs down there.

  • Reason
    October 15, 2015 at 8:32 p.m.

    If the people feel the inmates do not have the right to litigate than change the Arkansas Constitution.,, Because the Constitution plaining states that they have that right. And if you want cruel punishment than change the US Constitution.
    .
    My question is HOW can the governor justify $24,000 in lethal drugs that only have a one year shelf life?

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