PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs promised Friday that her administration would not execute, despite the fact that the state Supreme Court had scheduled it to overrule objections from the new attorney general.
Aaron Gunches, a Democratic governor, was promised not to execute him on April 6. He was convicted of murder in a 2002 shooting. This promise came just days after the state Supreme Court stated that it must issue an execution warrant if certain appellate proceedings are concluded. Gunches’ case met those requirements.
Hobbs appointed David Duncan, a retired U.S. Magistrate, to review the procurement of lethal injection drugs by the state. This was due to the state’s history of mismanaging executions.
Hobbs stated in a Friday statement that an execution would not take place unless the people of Arizona have confidence that the state isn’t violating the law when it executes the most severe penalties.
The office of Attorney General Kris Mayes has stated that it will not seek court orders to execute while Hobbs’ review continues.
Mayes, a Democrat, was elected to office in January. She tried to withdraw a request from Mark Brnovich, her Republican predecessor, for a warrant for Gunches. On Thursday, the court refused to withdraw the request.
According to the court, Hobbs’ review did not “contain good cause for restraining from issuing warrant.”
The Mayes office declined to comment about Hobbs’ promise to not execute the execution next month.
Hobbs claims that Gunches’ execution was authorized by the court, but the order does not require the state.
Dale Baich, an ex-federal public defender, is now an Arizona State University professor of death penalty law. She said Hobbs can exercise her authority as the chief executive of the state if the state feels it cannot execute the execution in a constitutionally acceptable way.
Baich who applauded Hobbs’ move said, “Whatever the governor did was not unique.” “Governors from Alabama, Ohio, and Tennessee recently used their authority in Tennessee to suspend executions after having serious questions about their state’s protocols.”
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office prosecuted Gunches and issued a statement stating that it believes Hobbs has a constitutional responsibility to execute all sentences, even the execution of Aaron Gunches.
After a nearly eight year hiatus due to criticisms that the execution of a 2014 execution in Arizona was botched, and difficulties obtaining execution drug drugs, Arizona executed three executions last January.
The state was criticised for taking too long in inserting an IV for lethal injection into the body of a prisoner in May, and also for refusing to allow the Arizona Republic newspaper to witness the executions.
Gunches will be executed for Ted Price’s 2002 murder in Maricopa County on April 6.
Gunches, who isn’t a lawyer represented himself in November when the Supreme Court issued his execution warrant. This was to ensure justice for the victims and closure. His office requested a warrant from the court to execute Gunches during Brnovich’s final month as an office.
Gunches withdrew the request in January and Mayes requested that Brnovich’s execution warrant be withdrawn.
Hobbs stated that Arizona’s prison system is in serious trouble. She cited a harsh court decision that found that the state violated inmates’ rights by failing to provide them with adequate medical and mental care.
Hobbs’ first month as a governor saw her announce the creation of a commission that would examine a variety of issues in Arizona’s prisons. This included staffing levels, prison conditions, and health care for those behind bars.