Monday, February 05, 2007

To say the death penalty debate is up in the air would be an understatement! Tuesday morning the Council of State will take up the complicated issue. Does a new protocol requiring a doctor to be present and meet a federal judge's recommendation from last year requiring a doctor to monitor an inmate's "pain" level match state law and a medical board's recent ruling that participation by a doctor is forbidden? Regardless of what is decided Tuesday it will go back to a judge and by all accounts it will head back to the legislature to clarify the law. In the meantime, by all accounts that means no executions for many months if not longer. The House Select Committee on Capital Punishment argued but decided against recommending a moratorium Monday. While Speaker Hackney said a few weeks ago he didn't think there was enough votes for a moratorium, momentum for one appears to be growing.

I'm told to expect a number of "speeches" from Council of State members as a rather diverse group of people make an unusual decision compared to their usual business. It's their chance to speak out on a issue many of them care about but would never be asked for their opinion typically. There's a large number of lawmakers who want the Council of State to vote against the prison's protocol and send it back to the legislature. The judge could also do the same thing. It's an interesting process when you think that all three branches of government are simultaneously taking up the same issue.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue sent out a release tonight calling for a moratorium but she explains it has nothing to do with Tuesday's's the full release from her communications director. Keep in mind she's a likely gubernatorial candidate.

"Lt. Governor Calls for Moratorium on Executions Until Constitutional Questions are Clarified

Raleigh: Lt. Governor Bev Perdue is closely studying the death penalty protocol vote that will come before the Council of State tomorrow morning.

But Lt. Governor Perdue recognizes that questions about the constitutionality of the death penalty administration have been accumulating. They have now reached a peak with questions about lethal injection and medical supervision. Lt. Governor Perdue believes that until these questions are clarified in the courts that there should be a moratorium on executions.

Lt. Governor Perdue wants to make clear that she is not linking tomorrow’s protocol vote with a vote for or against a moratorium.

Lt. Governor Perdue has long stood and continues to stand as a supporter of capital punishment. At the same time, she believes and has a demonstrated record in favor of insisting upon fairness in its administration."

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