Monday, July 31, 2006

Troubled past for Missiouri 'execution doctor'

The doctor overseeing executions has a troubled past, according to an account in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Post-Dispatch has confirmed the man behind the screen was Dr. Alan R. Doerhoff, 62, of Jefferson City. Two Missouri hospitals won’t allow him to practice within their walls. He has been sued for malpractice more than 20 times, by his own estimate, and was publicly reprimanded in 2003 by the state Board of Healing Arts for failing to disclose malpractice suits to a hospital where he was treating patients.

It is unclear how much U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. was told before he strongly questioned the doctor’s qualifications — and whether Missouri was delivering unconstitutionally cruel punishment in its death chamber.

Doerhoff’s reprimand was no secret to Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office. Nixon’s office, which fought to keep Doerhoff’s identity a secret in death penalty appeals, signed off on the discipline.

Executions in Missouri have been stopped by a federal court order.

Our question: If the doctor is supposed to oversee executions, can he be held liable if the inmate survives?

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