Local News

Judge OKs death penalty protocol

Posted May 14, 2009

— A Superior Court judge on Thursday dismissed inmate complaints over how North Carolina carries out the death penalty, opening the door further to resuming executions in the state.

Judge Donald Stephens' ruling is the second blow in two weeks for death penalty opponents, following a decision by the state Supreme Court that physicians cannot be punished for taking part in executions.

Death Row, Death Penalty, Execution Judge dismisses inmate complaints

Death row inmates Jerry Connor, James A. Campbell, James Edward Thomas, Marcus Robinson and Archie Lee Billings sued the Council of State two years ago, contending the panel shouldn't have approved a protocol for handling lethal injections.

The Council of State includes the governor and other statewide elected officials.

The inmates also maintained that they should have been able to present evidence before any protocol was developed.

An administrative law judge ruled last year that the method for executing inmates doesn't ensure they won't feel pain, and he ordered the council to revise the protocol. The council refused to do so.

In his five-page ruling, Stephens said the council had the authority to draft an execution protocol and that the inmates had no right to contest it.

It was unclear Thursday whether the inmates would appeal the decision. A stay of executions remains in place until the issue is settled.

The Senate passed a bill Thursday that, in addition to ensuring racial bias wouldn't be a factor in death sentences, would free the Council of State from signing off on the execution protocol in the future. That bill still must be approved by the House.

The debate over the execution protocol and physician participation in executions has created a de facto moratorium in carrying out the death penalty in North Carolina.

The last execution in the state occurred in August 2006. At least five scheduled executions have been put on hold since then. There are 163 inmates on death row at Central Prison.

Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake County, believes it’s time for the state to resume the death penalty.

Rep. Carolyn Justice, R-New Hanover, doesn’t see the issue as clear-cut.

“You want to err on the side of caution, but you take away the stick and will there be more crimes?” Justice said.

Scott Bass, an anti-death penalty advocate, is concerned Stephens’ ruling gives the state license to resume executions.

“I find it ironic that the very time reforms are being considered that people are trying to accelerate the rate of executions in the state,” Bass said.

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  • Duke _Nukem May 15, 2009

    Gogreen

    u said I'll disagree. Murder in the name of self-defense or when protecting one's family from imminent, grievous harm is not wrong. What is wrong is ritual, state-sponsored murder in the name of justice. It is kind of like we are all part of some cult or something.

    Thanks for proving my point. If you defend your family from someone trying to kill you or them that's called self defense not murder. Look up Mr. Webster definition of murder.

  • PraiseToHim May 15, 2009

    "there should be an express lane for those that brought this lawsuit." -- uncfan89

    I'm not trying to be obtuse, but are you advocating that those who appeal their conviction, should be executed first? Surely, that was not you intention.

    Praise

  • uncfan89 May 15, 2009

    Since my first comment obviously didn't make past the moderators I will try again. These killers didn't worry about the pain that their victims suffered so why should we worry about their suffering. Archie Billings, didn't worry about the pain and suffering he caused, when he raped and murdered Amy Jackson and stabbed her brother and left him for dead. So why should the state worry that putting a needle in his arm would cause him pain. I agree with the post that the State should put them to death with the same fate as there victims received. Hopefully the Death Penalty will soon be back in full force in NC, and there should be an express lane for those that brought this lawsuit.

  • ladyblue May 15, 2009

    Once again, a recent California study concluded it cost $250Million (1/4 BILLION) dollars to execute a death row inmate." yeah right..lol!!!!!!!!!!
    Winston

    Please provide that website for reference. I've never heard of such except maybe the part was left off that how much it costs to have to try to murderer and then all the expense they cost the taxpayers to appeal their decisions. That's what costs from every thing I have researched on it, so I feel this study must of included that as part of the expense. Has a comparison been made to the cost of keeping them in prison for life? It just may surprise folks how much it costs. I say that the law has now declared they can be put to death so move the process along now.

  • mramorak May 15, 2009

    alright boys lets get rollin

  • udoowutchyalike May 15, 2009

    Since when did death row inmates have ANY rights at all, especially the right to sue. I think it is ridiculous that someone on death row has a right to do anything! I agree with a previous poster, eye for an eye.

  • oldfirehorse May 14, 2009

    In my opinion, killing another human is wrong. If it is for retribution then it is still wrong. If it is for deterring others from committing capital crimes, then maybe. HOWEVER, if you're going to use the punishment to deter crime, then you should maximize the deterrent. Why hide them in Raleigh, and give them a painless death? Bring back public hanging. Hang them on the lawn of the courthouse where the crime was committed. Let potential criminals see how unpleasant and messy being hung is. That's my two-cents.

  • Winston May 14, 2009

    "Once again, a recent California study concluded it cost $250Million (1/4 BILLION) dollars to execute a death row inmate."
    yeah right..lol!!!!!!!!!!

  • working for deadbeats May 14, 2009

    Good news. Let's get the show on the road.

  • GoGreen May 14, 2009

    protestthis sez ...

    "I firmly believe that for prob 90% of the cases - the person convicted was the guilty party."

    I assume you mean the other 10% will be exonerated through the appeals process. What about when the one who slips through the safety net? Is that just the "price we all pay" for the right of state-sanctioned murder?

    Duke_Nukem sez ...

    "Well so is murder 100% of the time"

    I'll disagree. Murder in the name of self-defense or when protecting one's family from imminent, grievous harm is not wrong. What is wrong is ritual, state-sponsored murder in the name of justice. It is kind of like we are all part of some cult or something.

    Once again, a recent California study concluded it cost $250Million (1/4 BILLION) dollars to execute a death row inmate. The cost of living here is less but I still think spending the $150 million or so we will spend per execution would be better spent educating our children.

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