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