[JURIST] The North Carolina Medical Board [official website] does not have the authority to discipline doctors that participate in state death penalty [JURIST news archive] procedures, a state judge ruled [PDF text] Friday. Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens held that state requirements that a physician be in attendance during the lethal injection execution of condemned inmates trump a medical board policy [policy statement] that forbids doctors from participating in executions. Under North Carolina law, a doctor must monitor the condemned prisoner's vital signs and stop the execution if he seems to be suffering. State medical board rules allow doctors to be present, but prohibit any direct involvement in the actual execution.
The North Carolina State Department of Corrections [official website] in March filed [JURIST report] a lawsuit against the medical board, alleging that the board's policy prevents it from carrying out the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. In January, Stephens blocked two executions [JURIST report] when doctors refused to participate after the policy shift. The News & Observer has more.