The N.C. Department of Corrections effectively sidestepped a federal judge when it executed two men without having a doctor monitor their vital signs, a judge ruled earlier this month. Last April, U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard signed off on the execution of Willie Brown on the condition that prison officials have a physician present to ensure Brown did not suffer. Howard made a similar ruling in the case of inmate Samuel Flippen. Yet, both executions proceeded even when doctors, bound by ethical policies that prohibit assisting executions, refused to participate. Another judge, Fred Morrison Jr., who’s hearing a separate challenge to the death penalty in N.C. Administrative Court, pointed out the state’s evasion of federal courts.

North Carolina is the only state that has collected and made public the data from post-election audits of electronic voting machines, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Most states have not adopted adequate security measures to ensure the integrity of electronic voting machines. North Carolina jumped from the bottom to the top of the heap: In 2004, an electronic voting machine in Carteret County lost 4,400 votes when it ran out of memory. North Carolina’s improvements are due to the efforts of the State Board of Elections, and the activists that pushed the Board to act, including Joyce McCloy, founder of the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting.

Gov. Mike Easley followed the advice of the N.C. State Ethics Commission and fired three of his appointees because they didn’t fill out financial disclosure forms that could show potential conflicts of interest. Easley dismissed Buren Harrelson from the Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services Commission, Sadie Stanfield from the Human Relations Commission and Lon Culbertson from the Building Code Council.

The state ethics commission removed two officials who were appointed locally: Michael A. Grace of the State Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Commission and Joseph P. Wilson of the Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees.

Easley also signed three ethics bills into law earlier this month, which make state ethics commission hearings open to the public, limit donations to lawmakers’ legal defense funds and clarify ethics regulations passed in previous years.

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