|Omaha Senator Ernie Chambers|
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers filed a grievance Thursday against Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson over his advice to the state regarding its efforts to obtain lethal injection drugs.
The complaint against Peterson to the Counsel for Discipline of the Nebraska Supreme Court says he failed to give his client -- the state -- proper, competent advice on its continuing efforts to import two of the drugs it needs to carry out an execution.
If the import of the drugs were successful, Chambers said, it would result in a lawless action.
"No ethical lawyer would advise a client to behave in a way that results in unlawful consequences," he said.
“(Peterson has) chosen not to discharge his duty mandated by the Rules of Professional Conduct … a basis for invoking the disciplinary process,” Chambers said.
He included in his complaint a 1990 court decision, Neb. State Bar Ass'n v. Rhodes, in which the court said the conduct of a government attorney is required to be more circumspect than a private lawyer because improper conduct would reflect upon the entire system of justice in terms of public trust.
Peterson had no response to Chambers' filing, according to spokeswoman Suzanne Gage.
The complaint said the attorney general advised the governor on importing two drugs from supplier Chris Harris of HarrisPharma in India.
Harris is known to have scammed Nebraska in the past, Chambers said. In 2011, Harris was accused by pharmaceutical company Naari of misappropriating and diverting sodium thiopental from the intended purpose of registering it for sale in Zambia as an anesthetic. Harris instead sold it to Nebraska for use in executions, a purpose to which the supplier was “deeply opposed,” its CEO said.
The drug is now illegal in this country, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Peterson’s advice deviated from standard state purchasing procedures, Chambers said.
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes ordered the sodium thiopental and pancuronium bromide in May from HarrisPharma, paying $54,000 in advance. In September, a shipment of sodium thiopental was turned back to the distributor before leaving India.
Source: Lincoln Journal Star, Joanne Young, December 3, 2015