Hearing Set in Suit Challenging Lethal Injection

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A hearing is set in Richmond Circuit Court on a lawsuit challenging lethal injection in Virginia.

After hearing legal arguments Wednesday, a judge will decide whether the Department of Corrections must prove in court that it has authority to conduct executions.

Alexandria lawyers Meghan Shapiro and Christopher Leibig filed a lawsuit in April claiming that Virginia executioners who inject condemned inmates with lethal doses of drugs are illegally practicing medicine, pharmacy and anesthesiology without licenses.

The Department of Corrections argues in court papers that an execution is not a medical procedure because the purpose is to end a life, not save one. The department also says state law explicitly directs it to carry out death sentences.

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