Local News

N.C. Lethal Injection Procedure Challenged In Court

Posted March 3, 2006

— Lethal injection has been used to put prisoners to death in North Carolina since 1983. It became the only legal way to put prisoners to death in 1998.

"The North Carolina Constitution whether we like it or not provides for the death sentence, the legislature has spoken," said attorney Tom Ptiman from the Attorney General's Office.

Jim French is challenging the state saying the law is flawed.

"We stand in an awful position of killing people who broke the law, by breaking the law to kill them," said French in court Thursday.

One issue in French's 100-page lawsuit -- the procedure itself. He argues that by law lethal injection is a medical procedure, and medical personnel must administer it. But by law, medical personnel can not hurt or kill anyone. He says to get around that the state put the Central Prison warden in charge of lethal injection. French says the legislature never actually voted on that, raising constitutional questions.

"I would say that lethal injection in this state with our very fine constitution is a legal impossibility and we're late catching onto that," French said.

So far the state has not specifically addressed the issues in French's lawsuit, arguing he has no legal standing. In order to establish that, state attorneys say French must prove he is directly affected.

"It's not that his issues aren't important or meaningful, it's just that he lacks the standing to raise them," said Pittman.

Judge Robert Hobgood gave attorneys on both sides until Monday at 5:00 to file any additional arguments. He will then rule on whether or not French has standing to bring the lawsuit to court.


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