Case: Jones v. Hobbs

10-cv-01118 | Arkansas state trial court

Filed Date: March 8, 2010

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 8. 2010, a prisoner scheduled to be executed in Arkansas, filed an action against the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) in the Circuit Court for the County of Pulaski. The Plaintiff, represented by the Federal Defenders, sought an injunction against the state prohibiting his execution, claiming that the Arkansas Method of Execution Act (MEA), violated the state constitution. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the MEA's removal of standards for lethal injection and 'menu-st…

On March 8. 2010, a prisoner scheduled to be executed in Arkansas, filed an action against the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) in the Circuit Court for the County of Pulaski. The Plaintiff, represented by the Federal Defenders, sought an injunction against the state prohibiting his execution, claiming that the Arkansas Method of Execution Act (MEA), violated the state constitution. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the MEA's removal of standards for lethal injection and 'menu-style' options for the director of the ADC was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

In 2008, an injunction had been entered in the U.S. District Court against the ADC prohibiting executions until the execution policy was found to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act. The Act requires a 30 day public comment period before enactment proposed regulations and policies. The ADC had promulgated a detailed execution policy without complying with this provision.

Rather than complying with the Administrative Procedures Act requirements, the Legislature passed a law which gave the Director of the ADC authority to select from several methods of legislatively-sanctioned lethal injection. The plaintiffs filed a suit to enjoin the law as violating Article IV of the Arkansas state constitution, which is a separation-of-powers article. The plaintiffs claimed that the law gave the Director of the ADC unfettered discretion in choosing the method of execution. Plaintiffs further claimed that "[t]he legislative record shows that the Method of Execution Act (MEA) was purposefully designed to avoid the embarrassment of public oversight and the inconvenience of judicial review." Lastly, the plaintiffs claimed that the legislation would allow for 'single-chemical' lethal injections, which were so barbaric that they were not allowed in animal euthanasia.

Several prisoners awaiting execution intervened in the lawsuit.

On December 16, 2010, the Court (Judge Timothy Davis Fox) dismissed claims from several intervenor's complaints in an unpublished order. The separation-of-powers issue was the only issue left for consideration. The plaintiffs and defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment.

On August 29, 2011, in entering a Final Order, the Court found that the MEA was unconstitutional, and ordered that the language granting unlimited authority to the Director of the ADC ("any other chemical or chemicals, including but not limited to") stricken. The Defendants and Plaintiffs both objected to this order, and both filed cross appeals directly to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

On June 22, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court (Judge Jim Gunter) entered a published opinion (2012 Ark. 293) finding the law unconstitutional, but that the Circuit Court's Order striking language from the statute did not correct the constitutional infirmity. The Court found that the statute was not severable, and struck down the entire MEA. It then remanded the case to the Circuit Court.

As of this writing (6/26/2012), there have been no further developments in this case.

Summary Authors

Blase Kearney (6/26/2012)

People


Judge(s)

Baker, Karen Renee (Arkansas)

Fox, Timothy Davis (Arkansas)

Gunter, James Houston Jr. (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Adams, Dale E. (Arkansas)

Braden, Scott W. (Oklahoma)

Czuba, Deborah Anne (Arkansas)

Lee, Joshua R. (Arkansas)

Luby, Joseph W. (Arkansas)

Merrigan, Jennifer (Arkansas)

Rosenzweig, Jeffrey (Arkansas)

Judge(s)

Baker, Karen Renee (Arkansas)

Fox, Timothy Davis (Arkansas)

Gunter, James Houston Jr. (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Adams, Dale E. (Arkansas)

Braden, Scott W. (Oklahoma)

Czuba, Deborah Anne (Arkansas)

Lee, Joshua R. (Arkansas)

Luby, Joseph W. (Arkansas)

Merrigan, Jennifer (Arkansas)

Rosenzweig, Jeffrey (Arkansas)

Sallings , Deborah Ruth (Arkansas)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

11-1128

Docket [Arkansas Supreme Court]

Hobbs v. Jones

Arkansas state supreme court

June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012

Docket

10-cv-01118

Docket

Jack Harold Jones v. Ray Hobbs

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013

Docket

10-cv-01118

Complaint

Hobbs v. Jones

March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

Complaint

10-cv-01118

Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

Hobbs v. Jones

2010 WL 8757802

Dec. 16, 2010

Dec. 16, 2010

Order/Opinion

10-cv-01118

Order Dismissing Count Eight of the Complaint

Hobbs v. Jones

2011 WL 8342342

April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011

Order/Opinion

11-577

Opinion

McGehee v. Hobbs

Arkansas state supreme court

2011 Ark. 285

June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011

Order/Opinion

10-cv-01118

Final Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment

Hobbs v. Jones

2011 WL 8342339

Aug. 29, 2011

Aug. 29, 2011

Order/Opinion

11-1128

Opinion

Hobbs v. Jones

Arkansas state supreme court

2012 Ark. 293

June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012

Order/Opinion

11-577

10-260

10-351

10-428

Opinion

Arkansas state supreme court

2013 Ark. 151

April 11, 2013

April 11, 2013

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 24, 2022, 3:21 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Arkansas

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 8, 2010

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Death row inmates in Arkansas scheduled to be executed under the Methods of Execution Act of 2009

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Arkansas (Little Rock, Pulaski), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

Death Penalty:

Lethal Injection - Chemicals Used

Lethal Injection - General

Lethal Injection - Staffing (including physician)