University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Hobbs v. Jones CJ-AR-0003
Docket / Court CV-2010-1118 ( State Court )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
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 ... read more >
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.

Blase Kearney - 06/26/2012


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Death Penalty
Lethal Injection - Chemicals Used
Lethal Injection - General
Lethal Injection - Staffing (including physician)
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) State of Arkansas
Plaintiff Description Death row inmates in Arkansas scheduled to be executed under the Methods of Execution Act of 2009
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
11-1128 (State Supreme Court) 06/22/2012
CJ-AR-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
State Court Website
General Documents
Complaint 03/08/2010
CJ-AR-0003-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 12/16/2010 (2010 WL 8757802)
CJ-AR-0003-0003 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Order Dismissing Count Eight of the Complaint 04/07/2011 (2011 WL 8342342)
CJ-AR-0003-0004 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Opinion 06/23/2011 (2011 Ark. 285)
CJ-AR-0003-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Final Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment 08/29/2011 (2011 WL 8342339)
CJ-AR-0003-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Opinion 06/22/2012 (2012 Ark. 293)
CJ-AR-0003-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: State Court Website
Opinion 04/11/2013 (2013 Ark. 151)
CJ-AR-0003-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Baker, Karen Renee (State Supreme Court)
CJ-AR-0003-0001 | CJ-AR-0003-9000
Fox, Timothy Davis Court not on record
CJ-AR-0003-0003 | CJ-AR-0003-0004 | CJ-AR-0003-0005
Gunter, James Houston Jr. (State Supreme Court)
CJ-AR-0003-0001 | CJ-AR-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Dale E. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-0002 | CJ-AR-0003-9000
Braden, Scott W. (Oklahoma)
CJ-AR-0003-9000
Czuba, Deborah Anne (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-9000
Lee, Joshua R. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-9000
Luby, Joseph W. (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-9000
Merrigan, Jennifer (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-9000
Rosenzweig, Jeffrey (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-0002 | CJ-AR-0003-9000
Sallings , Deborah Ruth (Arkansas)
CJ-AR-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -