Kentucky Governor Keeps Medical License

A state medical board panel dismissed a grievance Thursday against Gov. Ernie Fletcher (search) that questioned whether he violated medical ethics by ordering a death row inmate's execution.

In a unanimous decision, a panel of the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board (search) dismissed the claim as having "no merit." When Fletcher signed Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr.'s (search) death warrant, he was acting as governor and not a physician, the board ruled.

American Medical Association (search) guidelines prohibit doctors from participating in executions. Kentucky law says doctors must follow the AMA ethical guidelines.

The panel meeting Thursday could have recommended a formal investigation, which could have led to sanctions against Fletcher, including potential loss of his license.

Brief deliberations were held behind closed doors while the group that filed the grievance waited. They were not allowed to address the panel about the claims, even when the group came out of closed session to vote.

"We are very disappointed and very upset about it," said Carl Wedekind, a retired attorney who was one of four to file the grievance against Fletcher.

Fletcher signed Bowling's death warrant on Nov. 8. Bowling was scheduled for execution Nov. 30, however his execution was postponed after a ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court and a Franklin Circuit Judge pending the outcome of other cases that involved Bowling.

The governor has maintained he did not violate medical ethics by signing Bowling's death warrant.