LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lawyers for the state of Arkansas said Thursday that the state Supreme Court should not grant another stay of execution for an inmate who was scheduled for execution last April.
Bruce Ward has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether he should have been entitled to help from an independent mental health professional before and during his trial. In the meantime, he wants the Arkansas court to re-impose a stay it lifted March 1.
The state's lawyers argue that the state's high court shouldn't grant the stay.
"He cannot come anywhere close to showing a likelihood" that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear his case, much less rule in his favor, assistant attorney general Brad Newman wrote to Arkansas' highest court. "If the United States Supreme Court believes Ward's position ... has merit, it can issue a stay of execution. There is no reason for this court to do so."
Ward and inmate Don Davis were among eight men set for execution last April as the state rushed to use up an execution drug before it expired. Arkansas ultimately put four of them to death. Ward, Davis, Stacey Johnson and Jason McGehee each won stays, and McGehee later had his sentence reduced to a life term without a chance at parole.
Davis has filed an appeal similar to Ward's and the state has made similar arguments against it.
Lawyers for the state have also said the Arkansas Supreme Court mistakenly issued orders in the cases without dissolving earlier ones. Newman wrote that an initial 1999 ruling against Ward in a lower state court has remained "wholly undisturbed" and that later mandates issued by the Arkansas justices were unnecessary and improper. He asked the court to clear up the record.