Federal judge OKs autopsy on executed inmate despite religious objections

Federal judge OKs autopsy on executed inmate despite religious objections

[JURIST] A US district judge gave the State of Tennessee permission Wednesday to perform an autopsy on executed Seventh Day Adventist Philip Workman [Wikipedia backgrounder], despite Workman's pre-execution objections to the procedure on the grounds that it would conflict with his religious beliefs. Chief District Judge Todd Campbell [FJC profile] of the US Middle District of Tennessee [official website] found that although Workman's religious beliefs warranted consideration, the state had a compelling interest in verifying the success of the lethal injection [JURIST news archive] protocol. Workman was the first inmate to be executed [JURIST report] earlier this month under Tennessee's revised lethal injection procedures [PDF text; JURIST report].

The new Tennessee protocol includes more detailed guidelines for administering lethal injections, but still uses a controversial three-drug "cocktail" of a pain killer, a paralytic to stop the lungs, and drug to stop the heart. Some say the cocktail may be ineffective in preventing inmates from suffering a painful death [JURIST report]. Dr. Jay Chapman, who created the cocktail in the 1970s, now believes that there are better drugs that could be used [CNN report]. Despite this, he still believes that if implemented properly, there is no problem with using his creation in lethal injections. AP has more.