The restraining order was issued in response to a case brought by the manufacturer of one of the drugs, vecuronium bromide, that Arkansas uses in its executions. "We are calling on state officials to accept the federal court's decision, cancel the frantic execution schedule, and propose a legal and humane method to carry out its executions".
Arkansas inmates who had been set for execution this month want a federal appeals court to take up their claim that the compressed timetable would violate "evolving standards of decency". In her order, Baker said there was a "significant possibility" the inmates' challenge to the execution protocol would be successful. She also said the protocol doesn't lay out what executioners intend to do to ensure that the inmates are unconscious.
McKesson, one of medical supply company that accused Arkansas of misleadingly obtaining a lethal injection drug, on Saturday sought to drop its lawsuit.
The company has said it sold the drug to be used for medical purposes, not executions.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted the execution of one of two inmates facing lethal injection Monday under the state's multiple execution plan. The six remaining executions are on hold because of Baker's order and because a state circuit judge in Little Rock ordered the state to not use a lethal injection drug until questions are settled on how the state obtained it.
Rutledge, the state attorney general, had filed an emergency petition to overturn the Griffen's order.
She cited Eighth Amendment concerns raised by the inmates and the Arkansas Department of Correction viewing policy for the inmates' attorneys as reasons for her decision. The packed execution schedule and rush to appeal is due to the state's supply of midazolam being on the brink of expiration. Arkansas originally planned to execute eight inmates between Monday and April 27 because its supply of one of the three execution drugs, midazolam, expires on April 30 and the state says it does not have a supplier to replenish it.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, in a 101-page ruling, found the state's plan would deny the inmates their legal rights by depriving them of adequate counsel because prison officials allow only a single lawyer to be present for any execution.
John Williams, attorney for some of the death row prisoners, welcomed Baker's ruling, saying it was legally sound and reasonable.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed the decision hours after it was issued.
On Saturday, a second judge issued a ruling to halt the executions.
Another federal judge and the state Supreme Court had already granted stays to two of the eight inmates, reducing the number of planned executions to six within an 11-day period.
Following this motion, workers were called into the Arkansas Supreme Court. Actor Johnny Depp, left, stands with former Arkansas death row inmate Damien Echols, before speaking at a rally opposing Arkansas' upcoming executions, which are set to begin next week, on th.
The state was still moving forward with plans to conduct the Monday night executions in the event that all stays were lifted.
In March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced his controversial plan to execute eight inmates in a little more than a week, starting April 17.