clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lethal injection supporter uses Drugs.com printouts in Supreme Court testimony

New, 5 comments

Dr. Roswell Lee Evans references research that's not so scientific

Today, arguments on lethal injection procedure are starting in front of the Supreme Court, as justices determine whether Oklahoma's use of the sedative midazolam in executions violates the standard of "cruel and unusual punishment." One person appearing in court will be Dr. Roswell Lee Evans, who, according to a report from ProPublica, has been using less than rigorous sourcing for his testimony.

Evans, who has suggested inmates "would not sense the pain" of an execution if given a high enough midazolam dose, is making his case using about 150 pages of printouts from Drugs.com in his expert witness report. That site has this disclaimer at the bottom of its home page: "This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment." Pharmacologists, writing a brief for the court, argue that Evans is simply wrong on midazolam, and that it's "widely recognized in the scientific and medical community that midazolam alone cannot be used to maintain adequate anesthesia." The research he's using, they say, doesn't come close to meeting the burden of scientific rigor.

How does this happen? As ProPublica and others have pointed out, the bullpen of scientists supporting lethal injection is increasingly thin: many prominent groups of pharmacists have taken a strong ethical position against lethal injection, and the remaining may not have the credentials to match their peers.