CALIFORNIA (USA): DEATH PENALTY ON HOLD AGAIN
May 30, 2013: In a 28-page ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal today scrapped the state's latest attempt to update its lethal injection procedures, finding that state prison officials failed to comply with administrative rules when crafting new regulations more than 2 years ago.
The unanimous decision of the 3-justice panel sends California back to the drawing board, unless the Brown administration takes the case to the California Supreme Court and keeps more than 700 death row inmates on an indefinite reprieve. The appeals court upheld the December 16, 2011 decision of Marin County Superior Court Judge Faye D‚ÄôOpal, who faulted the prison department for a variety of procedural missteps, including offering no public explanation for why San Quentin officials opted to continue with a 3-drug lethal injection method instead of a single-drug execution option being embraced by a number of other states.
State officials have indicated in court papers they are exploring the single-drug option, which involves putting condemned inmates to death with 1 dose of a sedative. A prison spokesman said state officials are reviewing the ruling but have not decided how to proceed. Switching to the single-drug method should thwart further legal challenges to California's lethal injection procedures. However, even if the Brown administration moves to single-drug executions, prisons will again have to comply with the administrative procedures to institute the new method, a process that can take more than a year. And states across the country, including California, are struggling to assemble supplies of execution drugs because of resistance from drug manufacturers and other problems. California has had a moratorium on executions since 2006 as a result of legal challenges to its execution procedures in both the state and federal courts.
Death row has more than 725 inmates awaiting execution, including more than a dozen who have exhausted their legal appeals and would be eligible for immediate execution. Several of those inmates have mounted the lethal-injection court challenges. (Source: Mercury News, 30/05/2013)