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September 28, 2010

"Drug expiration date pushes CA execution to brink"

The title of this post is the headline of this new AP article which seeks to detail the latest execution news from California.  Here are highlights: 

Five years ago, the planned execution of Michael Morales became so chaotic and confused that California prison officials canceled it two hours before he was to die.  Now, the state's first lethal injection attempt since then is running dangerously close to another execution night mess.

The problem with Morales was a failure to find medical professionals to assist with the execution.  This time, Albert Greenwood Brown is scheduled to die at 9 p.m. Thursday — just three hours before the Friday expiration date of the state's entire supply of sodium thiopental, a sedative used to knock out inmates before they are fatally injected with two other drugs.

The issue was spotlighted late Monday, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel to reconsider his decision refusing to block the execution.  "After a four-year moratorium on executions in California, multiple proceedings in federal court, a state administrative law proceeding, and state court appeals, it is incredible to think that the deliberative process might be driven by the expiration date of the execution drug," the appeals court said....

In an apparent rush to execute Brown, the attorney general's office sought a pre-emptive order Monday from the state Supreme Court that a state appeals court ruling clearing the way for the execution would become final at 5 p.m. Thursday.  Deputy Attorney General Michael Quinn acknowledged he was seeking extraordinary relief in asking the high court to take action. But he said the impending expiration of the sodium thiopental supply left him with no alternatives if Brown is to be executed on schedule....

Even if Brown is put to death, it's unlikely any more executions will be set until next year, when officials hope to receive a new batch of the sedative. Hospira, the company that makes the drug, said it has encountered production problems and can't deliver a fresh supply until early next year....

Judge Fogel, attorneys for Brown and death penalty watchers were caught by surprise when Riverside County prosecutors — assisted by lawyers from the attorney general's office — obtained an execution date during an Aug. 30 hearing.

Riverside County prosecutors had pushed the judge for a Sept. 29 execution date with no mention of the drug expiration issue. Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said Tuesday his office was first informed this week of the issue.  "How is this possible?  This is ridiculous," said Pacheco, still optimistic the execution would proceed. "I'm a little frustrated. The death penalty in California is becoming surreal." 

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UPDATEAs detailed in this new local story, headlined "San Quentin execution blocked by judge," it appears that Judge Fogel late Tuesday issued a stay that likely will prevent California from conducting any executions until 2011:

A federal judge blocked the execution of condemned murderer Albert Greenwood Brown late Tuesday, saying he needed months, not just a few days, to decide whether California's new lethal injection procedures remove the risk of a prolonged and painful death.

Brown, 56, was scheduled to be executed at 9 p.m. Thursday at San Quentin State Prison for raping and strangling 15-year-old Susan Jordan of Riverside in 1980. It was to be the state's first execution since 2006, when U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose found numerous flaws in the prison's injection practices.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will ask a federal appeals court to lift the stay and allow the execution, spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola said....

After hurriedly ordering and reviewing written arguments from both sides, Fogel said Tuesday evening that Brown's lawyers had raised substantial questions about whether the state's execution practices would be better than the ones he had criticized....

Unless it is overruled by a higher court, Fogel's order will halt Brown's execution and prevent any further executions in California until at least early 2011. That is when the state is due to receive a new supply of the sedative Sodium Pentothal, the sedative injected first into condemned inmates. The prisons' current supply has an expiration date of Friday, and the manufacturer says it has no more available now.

September 28, 2010 at 07:35 PM | Permalink


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The FDA tested hundreds of drugs stored by the military for 15 years. It found that those with their original appearance and not exposed to the elements maintained their purity, efficacy, and were usable. Expired medication may be used for many years past the official date. The expiration date is yet another false, pretextual excuse by the lying abolitionist, pro-criminal horrible people in the California lawyer syndicate. Fogel is a sneaky, manipulative enemy to the families of murder victims, and to all crime victims. We should pray he makes a detour into the wrong neighborhood, and gets his comeuppance from the criminals he is protecting.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 28, 2010 8:36:15 PM

"After a four-year moratorium on executions in California, multiple proceedings in federal court, a state administrative law proceeding, and state court appeals, it is incredible to think that the deliberative process might be driven by the expiration date of the execution drug," the appeals court said....

Typical judge nonsense. The bottom line is that California has a presumptively valid procedure, and it can therefore set a date when it damn well pleases. Brown, it must be noted, did not join the Morales litigation until late in the day, so he can't even argue that there was a stay in place as to him. It is surpassing bad for the Appeals Court to comment on the propriety of California's decision. It must not be forgotten that the victim's family here has endured almost 30 years of appeals and other nonsense. Perhaps the learned judges on the panel should consider that, rather than looking down their noses at California's desire to do justice in this case.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 28, 2010 8:44:11 PM

Given that the expiration date is set in an extremely conservative manner I see the courts having no business saying that any material on the unexpired side of that line can't be used. Now if it had already expired they might have something.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 28, 2010 9:01:33 PM

Criminals have all the rights and victims do not have any. Time to amend the Constitution with the Dexter Amendment.

One person already hinted he/she would take the Dexter job. Anyone else?

Posted by: George | Sep 28, 2010 9:12:14 PM

SH, the burden should be on the prisoner. I don't think he could win that, but I doubt the states are going to try to execute with expired chemicals. The OK stay over the new drug is ridiculous. If the new drug is good, then what's the basis for the stay?

"Criminals have all the rights and victims do not have any." Au contraire. SCOTUS has specifically stated that victims' families have an interest in seeing an execution carried out. Try to learn some law next time.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 28, 2010 9:21:35 PM

Fogel has now changed his mind again and is staying the execution he was so sure of a couple of days ago. According to Fogel and the 9th, 4 1/2 years isn't enough time to make a decision.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Sep 28, 2010 10:15:30 PM

federalist, an interest is equal to a right? Try to learn some law next time and find where in the Bill of Rights there is the right to an execution (speedy or not) if victims want it. The grief and anguish of victims is understandable, but if the number one duty of government is public safety, then why don't you or the other death advocates lobby hard and seriously for constitutional amendment? Seriously. I'll tell you why. People like the Bill of Rights even as they complain about them.

While you are at it, since the criminal justice system is not perfect (Willie Horton) why not lobby for more perfection? a) One misconduct by the police or prosecutor is one too many. Perfect it. b) One wrongful conviction is one too many. Perfect it. While you're at it, since the complaint is about California, put the money up for appellate lawyers so it doesn't take about 10 years before being assigned a lawyer and the appeals process can begin.

Posted by: George | Sep 29, 2010 4:00:59 AM

George: I would like to see an Amendment mandating that all citizens receive weapons training, carry a firearm, and have a duty to kill any violent criminal at the scene. Anyone failing to fire their weapon on a security video would receive an automatic ticket for $50 in the mail. These criminals should be chased and shot down at the scene. To deter.

If the crime rate increases in the jurisdiction of a judge for more than 2 years straight, he should be fired automatically for his pro-criminal bias and decisions. There should be consumer reviews of judges, by the victims of the criminals he loosed on the public. He should be presumptively liable for all damages done by any repeat offender released by him, because recidivism has the foreseeability of planetary orbits and cannot be ignored by these pro-criminal biased judges. Why are judges so evil, so biased, so pro-criminal? The criminal generates massive government expense and lawyer jobs. Victims do not and may rot.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 29, 2010 7:08:47 AM

Gov. S should send state troopers. Pull Judge Fogel from his office. Escort him to the California border, and tell him to never return. At this point, what other remedy remains? This is enough.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 29, 2010 8:02:58 PM

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