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August 3, 2010

Will litigation over California's lethal injection protocol ever end?

As detailed in this new Los Angeles Times article, there is fresh litigation concerning the latest version of California's lethal injection protocol even though the same basic litigation has been going on now for nearly five years.  Here are the particulars:

A death row inmate convicted of the 1985 torture and murder of a pizza deliveryman in Glendale asked a court Monday to strike down the state's newly revised execution procedures as illegal and likely to inflict excruciating pain if used on any of California's 700-plus condemned prisoners.

The lawsuit filed by Mitchell Sims, 50, alleges that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation rushed through revisions of the lethal injection procedures and deliberately sought to shut the public out of the process.

Corrections officials approved the changes one day before a May 1 deadline and sent them to the Office of Administrative Law for endorsement.  That office endorsed the changes late April 30, allowing the execution plans to move forward to state and federal courts for review.

Executions have been on hold in California since early 2006, when U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel expressed concern that some of the 13 death sentences carried out in the state in the past two decades might have exposed prisoners to unconstitutionally "cruel and unusual punishment."

I find it truly remarkable how much time and energy has been churned and burned on this issue in California, all while the state continues to sustain the largest death row in the nation and yet still seems not all that much closer to resuming executions.

August 3, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Permalink

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Knowing a couple of the characters, I can tell you with confidence, no, it will never end. Their ability to squeeze into a loophole, at issue spotting, at nit picking are each infinite. If the average death penalty appellate lawyer is a weasel, these are minks. And Fogel used a board certified doctor on the faculty of a top medical school to help him write that medically sophisticated and very technical decision. I would report her to Cali licensing authorities, but these are totally biased against the death penalty. They might give her an award instead of sanctions. Nor is there any point to arguing with these ideologues. All that remains is street justice and an ass kicking by the families of murder victims. The other side may have to find an equally sophisticated doctor to counter the scientific sounding pure bunk in the Fogel decision, and each of the objections to the new regulations.

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