By KEN RITTER, Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two doctors enlisted to oversee what would be Nevada’s first execution since 2006 never want to be publicly identified, state officials told a federal judge on Wednesday.
Prison officials want to use a novel combination of three or four drugs to execute Zane Michael Floyd by lethal injection, including the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and the anesthetic ketamine.
Floyd, 46, who was convicted in 2000 of killing four people and injuring a fifth in a 1999 shotgun attack at a Las Vegas grocery store, does not want to die and has several cases that could delay or stop its execution. pending in court.
His lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II to require the state to provide information about the professional qualifications of all doctors, emergency medical technicians and intravenous injection administrators involved in the execution.
Randall Gilmer, assistant attorney general for the state of Nevada, said Wednesday he believed the state had already provided all legally required information about participants.
After Boulware said he expected to be able to review doctors’ professional credentials, William Gittere, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, said doctors might be hesitant to be required to testify – even during a hearing behind closed doors before only the judge and defense lawyers.
“I don’t think either of them would agree, knowing that information could come out later and have them identified,” Gittere said. “Both are very cautious and very concerned about being publicly identified.”
“We will have to make a decision on this,” the judge replied, adding that he wanted to be able to determine whether doctors would be able to carry out what he called “significant and complex” medical procedures.
Gilmer told the judge there were time limits that could make the issue of identifying doctors moot – including the Feb. 28 expiration date of ketamine to be used in the execution.
Because state law allows a minimum of two weeks’ notice to schedule an execution, a death warrant must be issued by Feb. 13, a Sunday, to carry out an execution before Feb. 28, Gilmer said.
Alexander Chen, Clark County’s chief assistant prosecutor, noted that Floyd has three cases pending before the Nevada Supreme Court that could cause the state to miss the deadline. The first is whether the state judge currently assigned to handle Floyd’s case will continue to play that role. The state high court did not say when it will rule.
Boulware has postponed until at least next week its plan to hear final arguments to conclude hearings held in December to gather expert testimony on whether the state’s execution plan would subject Floyd to a unconstitutionally cruel and inhumane death.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said in a telephone interview that many of the 27 U.S. states that have capital punishment do not require public identification of doctors who witness the executions.
He pointed to American Medical Association guidelines that medical professionals should not be involved in the unintentional taking of human life.
“Doctors are ethically prohibited from participating in executions,” Dunham told The Associated Press. “That’s why almost all doctors don’t want to participate and those who do don’t want to be identified.”
But Dunham said the courts, the public and the convicted person should be able to know the qualifications of anyone hired to participate, including doctors, paramedics and others.
“The person who is executed has an interest in not being tortured to death,” he said.
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