CALIFORNIA: SUPREME COURT BLOCKS EXECUTION OVER NEW LETHAL INJECTION METHODS
September 28, 2010: The California Supreme Court issued an order today that thwarts the state's plans to execute Albert Greenwood Brown on Thursday night.
The justices unanimously denied the state's request to allow new procedures for lethal injections at San Quentin State Prison to take effect by 7 p.m. Thursday, 2 hours before the 56-year-old inmate is scheduled to die for the 1980 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.
A federal judge granted Brown a stay of execution Tuesday, saying he needed more time to examine the new procedures and decide whether they removed the risk of failures in anesthesia that would subject the inmate to a prolonged and agonizing death.
The state is appealing that ruling to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and could pursue a further appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court. Today's state court order, however, means the execution could not proceed at least until Friday. And Friday is also the expiration date for the prison's supply of the sedative Sodium Pentothal, the 1st of 3 drugs used in lethal injections.
A new supply is not due until early next year. By choosing Brown's execution date shortly before the prison was to run out of an essential drug, "the state has itself contributed to circumstances incompatible with the orderly resolution, pursuant to normal procedures, of pending legal issues in connection with executions under the new regulations," the state Supreme Court said.
The state cannot appeal today's ruling. (Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, 28/09/2010)