Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Dan Kemp

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 2, 2018

In re: Honorable John Dan Kemp; Honorable Robin F. Wynne; Honorable Courtney Hudson-Goodson; Honorable Josephine L. Hart; Honorable Shawn A. Womack; Honorable Karen R. Baker; Honorable Rhonda K. Wood Petitioners

          Submitted: April 25, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Little Rock

          BEFORE COLLOTON, BENTON, AND KELLY, CIRCUIT JUDGES.

          BENTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         The Honorable Wendell Griffen, an Arkansas trial judge, sued the Arkansas Supreme Court and Justices John Dan Kemp, Robin F. Wynne, Courtney Hudson Goodson, Josephine L. Hart, Shawn A. Womack, Karen R. Baker, and Rhonda K. Wood, in their official capacities, alleging they violated his constitutional rights by permanently barring him from presiding over death penalty cases. The district court dismissed the claims against the Arkansas Supreme Court as barred by sovereign immunity. The court denied the Justices' motions to dismiss. The Justices now petition this court for a writ of mandamus, to direct the district court to dismiss Judge Griffen's complaint with prejudice. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1651 (a), this court grants the writ, vacates the district court's order denying the Justices' motions to dismiss, and directs the district court to dismiss Judge Griffen's complaint.

         I.

         In 2010, Judge Griffen, an African-American and ordained Baptist minister, was elected as a judge on the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Arkansas (the Fifth Division). In 2016, he was reelected to a six-year term.

On April 10, 2017, Judge Griffen wrote a blog post stating, in part:
Premeditated and deliberate killing of defenseless persons-including defenseless persons who have been convicted of murder-is not morally justifiable. Using medications designed for treating illness and preserving life to engage in such premeditated and deliberate killing is not morally justifiable.
Any morally unjustified and unjustifiable killing produces moral injury. Beginning a week from today, and three days after Good Friday-on Monday, April 17-the political, religious, commercial, and social captains of empire in Arkansas will commence a series of morally unjustified and unjustifiable killings. Each death will be a new, and permanent, moral injury. These deaths will join the existing long list of atrocities, oppression, and other moral injuries associated with our state to cause people around the world to associate Arkansas with bigotry, hate, and other forms of injustice as long as human memory continues.

         On April 14 (Good Friday), Judge Griffen participated in an anti-death penalty rally on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol. Later that day, he attended a prayer vigil with his church outside the Arkansas Governor's Mansion. During the vigil, he "laid on a cot in solidarity with Jesus."

          Also on April 14, McKesson Medical-Surgical, Inc., a distributor of the drug vercuronium bromide, sued the State of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Correction, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (in his official capacity), and the Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction (in her official capacity), alleging they obtained the drug under false pretenses, intentionally failing to disclose its use in upcoming executions. McKesson sought a temporary restraining order, preventing the state from using the drug and seeking its return. The case was assigned to Judge Griffen. That day, he issued a TRO prohibiting defendants from "us[ing] the vercuronium bromide obtained from Plaintiff until ordered otherwise by this Court."

         The next day, the Arkansas Attorney General (on behalf of the McKesson defendants) filed an emergency petition for writ of mandamus with the Arkansas Supreme Court, seeking to vacate the TRO and remove Judge Griffen from the case. The petition said:

Judge Griffen cannot be considered remotely impartial on issues related to the death penalty. Judge Griffen has demonstrated that he is unlikely to refrain from actual bias regarding matters related to the death penalty, and at a minimum, he cannot avoid the appearance of unfairness and his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. See ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.