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States are Left Scrambling After Mr. Dershwitz Terminated his Role as an Expert Witness

August 27, 2014

Mark Dershwitz, an anesthesiologist and pharmacologist, has offered his opinions as an expert witness for 22 states and the federal government for more than 10 years. Mr. Dershwitz was called by Ohio to defend their new two-drug lethal injection that led to an execution that lasted 26 minutes (this same drug combination resulted in another execution in Arizona that lasted two hours). However, he recently announced that he is terminating his “role as an expert witness on behalf of Ohio and all other states and the federal government.” He believed Ohio had “jeopardized his standing with the American Board of Anesthesiology in a news release it issued about the January 16 execution of Dennis McGuire.” The news release stated that the death was humane and it had “discussed the events and observations of the McGuire execution with its expert witness, Dr. Mark Dershwitz”. Anesthesiologists are not allowed to take part in the creation of any lethal injections and Mark Dershwitz maintains that there was no discussion about Dennis McGuire’s execution, he was simply informed of what happened. Mr. Dershwitz decided to terminate his role as expert witness because he is afraid that the mistakes that happened in Ohio could happen again and that’s a risk he is not willing to take. Although Ohio has supported Dershwitz’s story, he says it’s too late. He did, however, stand behind his testimony last year in which he said that he didn’t believe that McGuire suffered.

Dershwitz withdrew himself as an expert witness in cases challenging two death-row inmates in Montana in June. The cases have been postponed until next year because the state does not have another expert witness to replace him. “The US states that have the death penalty have been scrambling since a 2011 European-led ban stopped the import of drugs most commonly used to carry out executions.”


Sources: The Guardian and TribTown

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