Arkansas high court expected to rule on mandate that state disclose source of execution drugs

The Arkansas Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by noon Friday on whether the state will have to turn over information about the source of its execution drugs, as ordered by a lower court.

The state has asked the high court to put on hold a Thursday mandate issued by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen, who denied the state's request for a protective order over the information and set the deadline.

Under the order, the Arkansas Department of Correction must disclose to the court, death row inmates and their attorneys the maker, supplier and other information about the three lethal drugs used in executions — midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

The Arkansas attorney general's office asked the court for an immediate stay late Thursday night and also filed a notice it will appeal Griffen's overall ruling.

Griffen sided with death row inmates who in a lawsuit have challenged the constitutionality of the secrecy portion of Arkansas' execution law.

The inmates said early Friday that the state had not proven it would be irreparably harmed by disclosing the required information because it already has the drugs to perform eight executions.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press identified three pharmaceutical companies that likely made Arkansas' execution drugs; each company said it objects to its drugs being used that way.

Midazolam, a sedative, gained notoriety after being used during executions that took longer than expected last year in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the drug's use in executions in June.

The state's high court had previously issued an order putting those eight scheduled executions on hold until the inmates' lawsuit could be heard.