LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the state’s appeal of a circuit judge’s ruling that the state must disclose information about a drug it plans to use in eight executions next month.
The Supreme Court said it dismissed the state’s appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s ruling because the state did not include Griffen’s written order in the record it submitted to the court.
Griffen ruled Thursday the state must provide the unredacted package inserts and product labels for its supply of one of its execution drugs, potassium chloride, to lawyer Steven Shults, who has filed a lawsuit seeking the materials.
Griffen said the state was incorrect in arguing that the materials are protected from disclosure under the state’s lethal-injection law. The law bars disclosure of information about the sellers and suppliers of execution drugs but not about the manufacturers who attach the inserts and labels, the judge said.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office argued that the state Department of Correction properly redacted the label because information on the label could lead to disclosure of the supplier of the drug.
Justice Rhonda Wood wrote in a dissenting opinion that she would have directed the state to submit the written order instead of dismissing the appeal. Justice Shawn Womack joined in the dissent.
Arkansas is scheduled to execute eight inmates over an 11-day period in April. The state is seeking to carry out the executions before its supply of one of its execution drugs expires April 30.
The secrecy provision in the lethal-injection law is aimed at overcoming obstacles in obtaining drugs to use in executions. Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005 because of legal challenges and difficulty obtaining execution drugs.