LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The Arkansas Supreme Court has granted an emergency stay on a recent ruling that said the state must disclose information about the drugs it would use in the upcoming executions.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said that the state was being too secretive about its execution procedures and that state confidentiality laws apply to sellers and suppliers, but not pharmaceutical companies. During the order, Griffen gave the state 30 minutes to hand over information on the drug, potassium chloride, to the lawyer of Steven Shults.
Then on Tuesday morning, Griffen gave the state until 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday to provide photocopies of the un-redacted information for the potassium chloride that was to be used in the execution. In a court document, Griffen said that failure to do so would be "grounds for citation for contempt of court."
The state was given until 10:00 a.m. to notify the Court if they had complied with the order, but by 9:45 a.m. the Court found they were not complying with the order. Griffen then set a court date for 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning to hold a contempt hearing in the case.
But on Tuesday evening, the Arkansas Supreme Court approved the emergency motion for an immediate stay. Justice Shawn Womack also ordered the return of any information that may have been provided to Shults's lawyers and issued an order prohibiting Griffen or the lawyers from releasing any of the disclosed information.
That emergency stay not only halted the disclosure of information but the contempt hearing as well.