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May 3, 2012

Los Angeles DA also suing to get California to resume executions with one-drug protocol

As reported in this post from a few weeks ago, the brother of a California murder victim recently brought suit asking a state judge to order the state to move forward with the long-stalled execution of his sister's killer by adopting the one-drug lethal injection method currently used in some other state.  Now, as reported in this recent Reuters piece, which is headlined "Prosecutors seek to resume California executions after 6-year ban," this strategy is being tried by a prominent California district attorney. Here are the basics:

Los Angeles prosecutors asked a judge on Wednesday to order the execution of two condemned killers using a single drug for lethal injections, a move intended to end a 6-year hold on the death penalty in California over the method used by the state.

The move comes days after Democratic Governor Jerry Brown told prison officials to consider using the single-drug execution protocol, and ahead of a November ballot measure that seeks to repeal capital punishment in the state.

A federal judge halted all California executions in 2006 after finding that the three-drug method that has been used for lethal injections in the state carried the risk of causing the inmate too much pain and suffering before death. California revised its protocol, but an appeals court has blocked a resumption of executions over the same objections.

Motions filed by Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley's office in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday asked that the warden of San Quentin State Prison put convicted murderers Mitchell Carleton Sims and Tiequon Aundray Cox to death by the single-drug protocol or show cause why the executions cannot proceed. Sims, 52, and Cox, 46, have both been on California's death row at San Quentin, near San Francisco, for more than a quarter century....

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for Cooley, said the district attorney had been working with prosecutors across the state for months on the strategy, and that it would soon be used against other convicted murderers in California.... Gibbons said both men had exhausted their appeals and that only the ruling against California's three-drug protocol was stopping the state from putting them to death....

Richard Dieter, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, was skeptical that prosecutors could persuade a judge to approve executions by a protocol that had not been fully vetted by the courts. "The D.A. can file and request this but the larger question is whether California has a working protocol for carrying out executions, and I don't think it has," Dieter said. "It's not as simple as just changing to one drug." Dieter said the move could force courts to more quickly take up the issue of using the single-drug protocol in California.

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May 3, 2012 at 05:08 PM | Permalink


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It's a shame that these prosecutors have to resort to this. Unfortunately, Gov Brown and AG Harris are stalling for time waiting for the November ballot measure.

Posted by: DaveP | May 3, 2012 7:04:24 PM

If so, they're delaying cases that have dragged on for decades for no reason. The ballot initiative is doomed to failure.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 3, 2012 8:46:07 PM

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