[JURIST] A federal judge on Monday ruled that North Carolina [JURIST news archive] officials could use a brain-wave monitor rather than have a doctor present to ensure a prisoner was not conscious during an execution by lethal injection. Lawyers for the inmate, Willie Brown Jr. [NCADP profile], said they would appeal the ruling, which they said could allow a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. US District Judge Malcolm J. Howard had previously ruled [order, PDF; News Observer report] that a doctor must be present to ensure that Brown feels no pain during his scheduled execution. Howard said Monday that prison medical team could use the monitor to make sure the Brown was unconscious when the final injection was administered.
Similar events in California in February resulted in the state being forced to delay [JURIST report] the execution of Michael Morales after doctors who were supposed to observe withdrew due to ethical concerns. The American Medical Association [group website] ethical code prohibits doctors from participating directly in executions. The result has been a virtual moratorium [JURIST report] on executions in California. The New York Times has more [registration required].