The North Carolina agency responsible for managing executions in the state has changed its procedures to use a one-drug lethal injection, potentially affecting litigation that for years has challenged the state’s use of a three-drug mix as cruel and unusual punishment.
The Department of Public Safety changed in late October its procedures to use in executions only the drug pentobarbital, said department spokesman Pamela Walker. Late last week, the attorneys in a case centering on the state’s use of a three-drug solution asked the North Carolina Court of Appeals for the 10th Judicial District to postpone a hearing scheduled for today so they could review the new procedures.
"The effect of the new protocol and the corresponding decisions of the parties may greatly reduce the issues to be considered by the court in the pending appeal," said Robert Orr and David Weiss, who originally sued the state, and Assistant Attorney General Jodi Harrison in the motion filed jointly late last week.
The state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006 because of multiple legal challenges, including a 2009 law that was repealed this year and allowed some death row inmates to seek a reduction in their sentence, and controversy over the use of a three-drug injection. There are 151 offenders on death row.