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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.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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