Local News

Supreme Court to rule on death penalty dispute

Posted September 30, 2008 1:17 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2008 3:40 p.m. EDT

Death Row, Death Penalty, prisoner

— The death penalty debate will move to the state Supreme Court in November.

The high court has agreed to hear a dispute over the role of physicians in North Carolina executions. Arguments are scheduled for Nov. 18.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ruled a year ago that the North Carolina Medical Board overstepped its authority by threatening to punish physicians for participating in executions.

The board adopted the policy early last year, saying the profession's code of ethics should prevent physicians from taking part in an execution. The policy effectively triggered a moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina, which has not executed an inmate since August 2006.

State law requires that a doctor be present during a lethal injection, and a federal judge demanded last year that a doctor oversee the process of putting an inmate to death.