The Supreme Court for Arkansas granted a stay of a judge’s order that mandates state officials disclose additional details related to the sedative Midazolam. The state’s Department of Correction (DOC) authorities intend to use midazolam in an execution scheduled for November. The emergency stay upholds secrecy about the drug’s supplier. Midazolam is only one of the three drugs administered in the state’s lethal injection protocol for carrying out capital punishment.

An Arkansas state law from 2015 shields the records for midazolam’s supplier. However, last week Judge Mackie Pierce, Pulaski County, ruled that manufacturers are not covered by confidentiality.

The effect of Pulaski’s ruling was that the state originally had until this afternoon to disclose the labels, along with package inserts, for its midazolam supply, the Star Tribune reported.

Attorney’s lawsuit for midazolam information is impetus for state’s appeal and high court’s stay

Suing for information about drugs comprising the state’s lethal injection cocktail is a familiar step for Steven Shults, who is an attorney in Little Rock, AR. Shults is behind the lawsuit related to the release of information about the DOC’s midazolam.

Shults also prevailed in a case concerning the state’s potassium chloride supply. Potassium chloride is a second drug administered in the lethal injection protocol, and it stops the heart during executions. The high court also stayed the court mandating the state to release information about its supply of potassium chloride.

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State officials are also appealing the ruling to prevent having to release information about potassium chloride to Shults.

Lawyer suing for disclosure about midazolam wants appeal hastened before November execution

Alec Gaines is Shults’ lawyer. Gaines stated that he is hoping that the court will agree to his client’s request to hasten the state’s appeal. Shults prefers that the outcome of the appeal is known before the execution of Jack Greene. Green is slated for execution at the Cummins Unit on November 9. In 1991, Greene was convicted of killing Sidney Jethro Burnett. Burnett, along with his wife, accused Greene of arson. According to Greene’s lawyers, the condemned inmate is severely mentally ill, the Tribune reported.

Jennifer Merritt, Arkansas Assistant Attorney General, wrote the court yesterday. She conveyed to the court that the state has no objection with the court accelerating the appeal. She noted that “it is probably most efficient,” according to ArkansasOnline.

State’s high court did not explain reason for issuing emergency stay

While the high court did not cite a reason for its emergency stay issued yesterday, the ruling did relay that the Chief Justice, Dan Kemp, dissented from the majority opinion.

Kemp would have permitted Judge Pierce’s ruling to remain in effect. The relevant fact that is known is that neither the state nor Shults are expected to finalize written arguments until after Greene is executed.

The DOC discontinued giving reporters redacted package inserts and drug labels, ArkansasOnline explained. The Associated Press utilized the records in identifying Pfizer as a manufacturer assisting the state in obtaining part of the lethal injection drug supply.

Pfizer and other drug manufacturers and suppliers have objected to their products being administered in the lethal injection protocol. The DOC endeavors to shield its drug providers by invoking provisions in the state’s 2015 Method of Execution Act. Pierce’s ruling handed down last week stated that the 2015 law doesn’t protect drug manufacturers specifically. As a result, Pierce ordered the state to release the records, citing the Freedom of Information Act.

While Gaines has stated that the records are a matter of public interest, he could not convey what Shults aims to discern from the drug labels or package inserts.