Death Penalty

Laws Shield Executioners

Posted Jul 30, 2007 10:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Several state laws shield the identities of medical personnel administering lethal cocktails to condemned inmates, even as lawsuits claim botched executions.

A federal judge barred a Missouri doctor from participating in lethal injections after he admitted he sometimes gave condemned inmates smaller doses of sedative than required by state guidelines, the New York Times (sub. req.) reports.

Alan Doerhoff, who had his medical privileges revoked at two hospitals, said the problem was caused by dyslexia, according Adam Liptak in his Sidebar column for the Times. Doerhoff had overseen more than 50 executions, according to a story revealing his identity in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (article posted by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty).

Missouri’s response was to pass a law protecting the identity of executioners, allowing them to sue those who break the law. Several states have similar laws, including Virginia, whose law took effect this month.


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