Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, says he agrees with Thursday’s ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to allow the Correction Department director to decide whether an inmate is mentally competent to be executed.
The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in favor of two inmates who are claiming incompetence. Lee said he agreed with the decision, noting there are no established guidelines or mental health expertise required for the director to make such a determination.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge defended the procedure and said she was considering her options, though it’s case in which the federal courts would be unlikely to take an interest. Said a Lee release:
“This decision is a positive step for the state’s criminal justice system. Due process must be afforded to all to ensure justice is carried out. It disturbs me that the current Attorney General is considering appealing this state Supreme Court ruling. My opponent created a media circus after last year’s rushed executions. Families of the victims and the incarcerated themselves deserve a clear, straightforward process that protects the integrity of our judicial system,” said Mike Lee.
The state of Arkansas attempted to put to death eight people in 11 days last year. Several of the cases, including Jack Greene and Bruce Earl Ward, were halted by courts. AG Rutledge has continually defended the process that generated several successful appeals and subjected victims families to an international media spotlight.