Judge Who Helped Stop the Arkansas Executions Yanked From Death Penalty Cases

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Last Friday—the same day he ruled to halt the use of a lethal chemical in a string of executions, effectively stopping them in their tracks—Judge Wendell Griffen of Arkansas’ Sixth Judicial Circuit strapped himself onto a gurney outside Governor Asa Hutchenson’s mansion, in protest of the death penalty.


On Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court reprimanded Judge Griffen for his role in the protest, banning him from hearing any case relating to the death penalty and referring him to the state’s Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for further review.

The rebuke comes as Arkansas grapples with a series of executions initially scheduled for Monday, several of which have been halted by various court orders, and all of which would be impossible to conduct without the chemical banned by Judge Griffen. Gov. Hutchinson initially scheduled the eight executions to take place within a narrow window of time before the state’s supply of lethal chemicals used in death penalty cases expired.

At issue, Griffen ruled last week, is the fact that the Arkansas Department of Corrections “misled [drug supplier] McKesson when it procured the vecuronium.”

However, in an emergency petition filed against Griffen on Monday, the State of Arkansas pointed to a post on the judge’s personal blog, which said, “[The state plans] to use medication designed for treating and healing disease to kill men.”

Nevertheless, Judge Griffen has maintained that despite his personal objection to the death penalty, he can still maintain impartiality while on the bench. The executions remain on hold.

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