Ark. Supreme Court Removes Judge Who Opposes Death Penalty From Death Penalty Cases
LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — The Arkansas Supreme Court has removed a Pulaski County circuit judge who attended anti-death penalty rallies from all death penalty cases.
The Arkansas Department of Corrections filed an emergency petition on Monday (April 17) against Pulaski County circuit judge Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order against the state of Arkansas on Friday (April 14), stopping the scheduled executions until further notice. The execution of six death row inmates was scheduled to begin on Monday.
The DOC complaint alleges that Griffen should have recused himself from hearing the lawsuit about the execution drugs, because he is unable to be impartial in the case. The complaint also states that Griffen attended two anti-death penalty rallies on Friday — one where he laid on a cot pretending to be death row an inmate — and posted his views about the matter on his personal blog, writing, “Arkansas officials plan to commit a series of homicides.”
The complaint requests that Judge Griffen be removed from the case and his temporary restraining order stopping the scheduled executions be lifted.
The supreme court agreed to immediately reassign Griffen from all cases involving the death penalty or the state’s execution protocol on Monday afternoon. His restraining order was overturned by the state supreme court on Monday night.
The supreme court opinion states that Griffen was also referred to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to see whether he violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.