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Case Name Robinson v. Beck CJ-NC-0003
Docket / Court 07 CVS 001109 ( State Court )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On January 18, 2007, the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) issued a Position Statement to express their views regarding the participation of North Carolina's licensed physicians in executions. NCMB stated their belief that any physician participation in capital punishment was a violation of ... read more >
On January 18, 2007, the North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) issued a Position Statement to express their views regarding the participation of North Carolina's licensed physicians in executions. NCMB stated their belief that any physician participation in capital punishment was a violation of medical ethics. However, because NCMB recognized that North Carolina law (specifically N.C. Gen. Stat. ยง 15-190) required the presence of "the surgeon or physician of the penitentiary" during the execution of condemned inmates, they would not discipline licensees for "merely being present during an execution" in conformity with the statute. The NCMB then stated, however, that "any physician who engages in any verbal or physical activity, beyond the requirements" of the state law, and any physician that "facilitates the execution" would be "subject to disciplinary action." The Statement specifies that forbidden physician participation would include prescribing or administering tranquilizers and other psychotropic agents and medications, monitoring vital signs in any way, attending or observing the execution as a physician, rendering of technical advice regarding the execution, selecting injection sites, starting intravenous lines as a port for a lethal injection device, prescribing, preparing, administering, or supervising injection drugs or their doses or types, inspecting, testing, or maintaining lethal injection devices, and consulting with or supervising lethal injection personnel.

One week later, two death-sentenced prisoners filed this lawsuit under state law against the State of North Carolina in the Wake County Superior Court. The prisoners contended that the absence of a physician's participation in their execution would subject them to an unconstitutionally high risk of pain and suffering, which would violate their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The court held a hearing, wherein the State announced they had elected to comply with the Medical Board's decision and no longer have physician participation in the execution process. They stated that they intended to have a physician present, but that the physician would not supervise or participate in any way, and they argued that the Warden could carry out a fully constitutional execution through the use of a staff of trained medical personnel that does not include a physician.

After the hearing, the court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the State from conducting any execution until the Governor and other top executive-branch officials had determined whether a physician was required to participate in the execution process.

The North Carolina Department of Correction then sought the approval of its proposed Execution Protocol by the Council of State. However, in an order issued on August 9, 2007, Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison ordered the Council of the State to reconsider its approval of the Execution Protocol.

Kristen Sagar - 09/10/2007
Anna Dimon - 04/23/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Death Penalty
Lethal Injection - General
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) North Carolina Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Two death-sentenced prisoners of the State of North Carolina.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 01/18/2007
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing CJ-NC-0002 : North Carolina Department of Correction v. North Carolina Medical Board (State Court)
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
not recorded
01/18/2007
Capital Punishment- North Carolina Medical Board Position Statement
CJ-NC-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
State Trial Court
01/25/2007
Order Allowing Preliminary Injunction
CJ-NC-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
not recorded
08/09/2007
Decision
CJ-NC-0003-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Morrison, Fred G. Jr Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-NC-0003-0004
Stephens, Donald W. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
CJ-NC-0003-0001

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