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May 29, 2007

The de facto death penalty moratorium in North Carolina

This article in the Charlotte Observer details that lethal injection lawsuits and legislative indifference have produced a de facto moratorium on executions in North Carolina.  Here are the basics from the effective article:

As North Carolina edges toward a full year with no executions, top state leaders aren't in a hurry to make changes that would reinstate the death penalty.  Five executions have been put on hold since a state judge in Wake County heard their cases earlier this year, as part of a national controversy over the role of doctors in executions.

Now, Democrats controlling the N.C. legislature say they are waiting for the court's decision before making any moves. Republican-backed legislation, which would allow doctors to participate without fear of discipline from the N.C. Medical Board, hadn't had a hearing in either the House or Senate by the time a key deadline for moving forward this year passed last week. "We're waiting to hear what the court says," said Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Fayetteville. "We're not sure that the law we have is not right."

Republicans are questioning whether the inaction is part of a hidden agenda. "The only conclusion that someone could draw is that the leadership wants a moratorium on the death penalty but doesn't want to vote on it," said Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican. 

Gov. Mike Easley, a two-term Democrat, is backing the Democratic leadership's position.

The state judge issued a de facto moratorium in January after the medical board declared that doctors couldn't participate in executions without violating medical ethics.

Whatever one thinks of this state stalemate on executions, at least this de facto moratorium is being noticed.  As I have lamented in posts here and here, the Bush Administration seems to be supporting a de facto moratorium on federal executions, but nobody is questioning why and there is precious little public information about the on-going federal lethal injection litigation.

May 29, 2007 at 06:37 AM | Permalink

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Comments

What a surprise. Dems taking the side of murderers.

Posted by: federalist | May 29, 2007 10:22:54 AM

You really enjoy this politics stuff. Since I don't talk to many non-lawyers, it really seem childish. However, I guess you guys like it.

However, “Democrats controlling the N.C. legislature say they are waiting for the court's decision before making any moves.” Is hardly taking anyone’s side, but rather is a mature attempt to avoid further litigation.

Posted by: S.cotus | May 29, 2007 12:46:31 PM

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