A judge has ruled that the North Carolina Medical Board has overstepped its authority by threatening to punish physicians for participating in executions.
Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has struck down a policy that effectively triggered a moratorium on the state's death penalty.
Stephens says state law does not grant the medical board the right to prohibit doctors from assisting in executions.
Stephens also ruled that executions are not medical procedures.
The medical board licenses and disciplines doctors in North Carolina. It threatened in January to punish any doctor who takes an active role in an execution.
State law requires that a doctor be present during a lethal injection.