LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to block a circuit judge’s ruling that the state must disclose more information about a drug it plans to use in eight executions next month.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled Thursday that 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.
In a written order filed Friday, Griffen said the state was incorrect in arguing that the materials are protected from disclosure under the state’s lethal-injection law. Griffen said the law bars disclosure of information about the sellers and suppliers of execution drugs but not the manufacturers.
“Package inserts and product labels are not provided by sellers or suppliers, but by the manufacturers of those products,” Griffen said in the order.
Rutledge filed an emergency motion for an immediate stay of Griffen’s order with the Supreme Court on Friday.
She said in the motion the state Department of Correction has provided Shults with an unredacted copy of the package insert for the potassium chloride and a redacated copy of the label for the drug. Lot, batch and control numbers were redacted because disclosing them could lead to identification of the seller and/or supplier, she said.
“No further disclosure should be required until the issue is finally resolved on the merits by this court,” Rutledge argued.
In a response also filed Friday, Shults argued that the confidentiality provision in the lethal-injection law applies to sellers and suppliers and “does not and cannot extend to the manufacturer of the drugs or to every other entity in the chain of distribution.”
Shults asked the Supreme Court to dismiss Rutledge’s motion.
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.