NC, Medical Board At Impasse Over Doctor's Role In Executions

The impasse between doctors and the state that has effectively put executions on hold in North Carolina may be headed to court.

That's because the state Attorney General's Office and the North Carolina Medical Board failed yesterday to agree on the role doctors can play in executions.

State prosecutors met with the board's staff to try and resolve the dispute but made no progress.

A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Roy Cooper says the issue likely will end up in court, but no hearing has been scheduled.

Last April, a federal judge said an execution could proceed only if a doctor monitored the inmate to prevent pain. In January, the medical board approved an ethics policy that threatened to punish any doctor who takes part in an execution.

State law requires only that a doctor be present.

In attempting to resolve the conflict, the state changed its execution procedure, but created a legal morass that led Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens to put several executions on hold.