A three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously this morning that a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s death penalty procedures must head back to a trial court. While four death row inmates were appealing a lower-court ruling upholding the state’s three-drug protocol for administering lethal injections during capital punishment, the state replaced the three-drug protocol with a single drug, Pentobarbital. Now the inmates contend that the decision to adopt a new “execution procedure manual” calling for the single drug should have gone through the state’s rule-making process. Appellate judges agreed a trial court should address that issue.

Among the latest batch of opinions released this morning from the N.C. Court of Appeals:

  • A split 2-1 panel affirmed a trial court’s ruling against Warren County in a zoning dispute involving a marina.
  • A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed the N.C. Property Tax Commission’s ruling against Union County in a tax dispute involving an “arbitrary method of evaluation” used to assess the property value of two parcels.
  • A unanimous three-judge panel agreed a man could not avoid a drunk driving conviction by claiming that the N.C. Highway Patrol has no jurisdiction to make arrests on the Cherokee Reservation.
  • In an unpublished opinion with no precedential value, a unanimous three-judge panel affirmed a trial court’s ruling in a dispute involving leadership of the Meherrin Indian Tribe.