Delays in California Death Penalty to be Decided by Higher Court

As I mentioned last month, the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of a drug called Midalozam for use in lethal injection has brought the debate about the death penalty in California back into the spotlight. Back in 2006, a district judge stopped all death-row executions in the state (citing the delays in the system as being unconstitutional), and now California has the largest death row backlog in the nation. Now the topic of California’s death penalty has come up again – this time not in the context of the type of drugs that may be used, but to the original debate of wait time that an inmate faces while on death row in the state.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney explicitly ruled that California’s death penalty system was unconstitutional in Jones v. Chappel, smiting the long wait that comes before execution. California Attorney General Kamila Harris appealed this decision and seeks to overturn it. As a result, on August 31, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the oral arguments over the constitutionality of the death penalty in Jones v. Davis.

The Delayed Process

Since 1978, California has spent more than $4 billion on death penalty costs and executed only 13 people. It is estimated that the population an Quentin’s death row will reach 1,000 people by the year 2030. California inmates normally wait an average of three to five years just for a court appointed lawyer to pick up their case. They can be on death-row for decades before being exonerated or dying of natural causes.

If the 9th Circuit upholds Judge Cormac’s ruling, Attorney General Harris may appeal once again to the Supreme Court, to ultimately decide the issue. Legal experts predict that even if the Supreme Court were to grant certiori and uphold the lower court ruling, it will not unravel the rest of the state’s death penalty practices. This case deals specifically with California’s extremely high number of inmates and low pace of executions.

It should be noted that the delayed wait time is a wholly separate issue from the drugs that will be allowed in the course of lethal injection.

Voters Rejected the Repeal of the Death Penalty

As if the topic could not get more convoluted, California voters in Proposition 34 rejected a ballot measure that would have permanently repealed the state’s death penalty.

San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with first degree or second degree murder or homicide in San Diego County or anywhere in Southern California, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The Law Offices of David Boertje are aggressive when it comes to protecting your rights and will advise you of potential defenses.  It might also be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain depending on the facts of the case, and we will do our best to reduce your charges. Contact the law offices of attorney David Boertje today for a free consultation.