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Federal judge says Missouri lethal injection protocol changes inadequate

[JURIST] Missouri's revised plan for conducting executions by lethal injection [JURIST news archive] fails to ensure that executions do not cause unconstitutional pain and suffering, according to US District Judge Fernando Gaitan [official profile], who halted all executions in the state in June [JURIST report]. Gaitan wrote on Tuesday that the proposal was an improvement over existing procedures but still did not meet his demands. Gaitan specifically called for a board-certified anesthesiologist to make sure the lethal injections posed no unnecessary risk of pain. Missouri [JURIST news archive], however, could not find a certified anesthesiologist willing to monitor lethal injections and instead proposed another physician, nurse or pharmacist. After Gaitan's ruling in June, the president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists [professional website] sent a letter [text] to all of the group's members reminding them of their ethical obligations and warning them to "steer clear."

In June, Gaitan gave the Missouri Department of Corrections [official website] until July 15 to find a new way to execute inmates, ruling in the case of death row inmate Michael Taylor. The US Supreme Court [official website] in February refused to vacate [JURIST report] a previous stay of execution for Taylor but also denied certiorari in Taylor's case challenging lethal injection. AP has more. The Columbia Missourian has local coverage.

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