LITTLE ROCK — A circuit judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Arkansas death-row inmates, eight of whom are scheduled to be executed next month.
Also Tuesday, five of the inmates filed a new federal lawsuit seeking to block their executions.
In a 10-page order, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen granted a motion by the state to dismiss the inmates’ suit in state court.
Griffen noted that in June the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the inmates to the states’ lethal-injection law. That decision overturned a 2015 ruling by Griffen that a provision in the law requiring the state to keep secret information about the manufacturers and suppliers of execution drugs was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s decision dismissed the inmates’ suit. The inmates late filed a second amended complaint.
Griffen said in his order Tuesday, “That dismissal (by the Supreme Court) effectively ended this court’s jurisdiction over all claims and contentions asserted in the lawsuit that led to the dismissal.”
Griffen also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the inmates had not yet presented their full case when the state’s highest court tossed their suit.
“To think that the highest court in Arkansas would compel every other court in Arkansas to steal the last right condemned persons have to challenge the constitutionality of their execution illustrates the travesty of justice, and the damnable unfairness, this court is powerless to prevent,” he wrote.
The inmates filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging that the state’s planned use of the sedative midazolam in their executions will cause them to receive cruel and unusual punishment.
On Tuesday, five of the inmates filed another federal suit alleging that the clemency process has been improperly rushed by the state in their cases.
By Tuesday afternoon, the state had not yet filed a response to the federal suits.
Arkansas has scheduled an unprecedented eight executions over a short span of days in April as it rushes to carry out the procedures before its supply of one of its execution drugs expires at the end of that month.
The state has not executed an inmate since 2005 because of legal challenges and difficulties in obtaining execution drugs.