Last week, the NC Court of Appeals issued a decision in Robinson v. Shanahan, a case filed on behalf of four death row inmates that challenged the legality of the method of capital punishment in North Carolina. Originally, the lawsuit focused on whether a three-drug method of execution was constitutional. However, while the appeal was pending, the General Assembly changed the law dealing with execution procedures, and as a result of that change, a new execution method was adopted. The Court of Appeals ruled that any issues raised by these changes must be considered first by the trial court. The Court’s decision sends the case back to the trial court so that important issues about the death penalty can be considered. This result will help ensure that important questions about our state’s death penalty policy are decided in an open, public fashion, and not considered in secret by just a few prison officials.
The inmates in this case are represented by CJG attorney David Weiss, along with Robert F. Orr of Poyner & Spruill.