The Silicon Valley Mercury News reports, "Court hears challenge to California's execution method," by Howard Mintz.
A state appeals court hearing here Tuesday underscored the extent to which California's death penalty system has been lost in the legal weeds.
During less than an hour of arguments, the 1st District Court of Appeal offered few hints on whether it would uphold a Marin County judge's 2011 order blocking executions because state prison officials failed to comply with complex administrative rules in revising California's three-drug lethal injection procedures. The highly technical issue is the latest legal impediment for the state, which has not carried out an execution in more than seven years.
Justice J. Anthony Kline was the only member of the panel to signal where he stands in the case,indicating the prison department's effort to overhaul its execution method was botched.
"The amount of conceded mistakes here is unusual," Kline told Deputy Attorney General Michael Quinn.
But Justices James Lambden and James Richman were silent during the hearing, asking no questions of either side. The court now has 90 days to rule.
While the outcome rests on arcane legal rules, the result could be important for the pace of California's execution process. If the appeals court sides with the state, allowing the three-drug method to move forward, it might prompt resolution of related federal court challenges to lethal injection -- possibly allowing executions to proceed next year. But a loss for the state would likely add to the interminable delays on the 734-inmate death row.
"Court In SF Hears Bid To Reinstate Lethal Injection Protocol," is by Julia Cheever of Bay City News, via the San Francisco Appeal.
A lawyer for the state asked an appeals court in San Francisco today to reinstate California’s three-drug lethal-injection procedure for executing death row inmates.
Deputy California Attorney General Michael Quinn argued that the revised lethal-injection plan, completed in 2010, complied with a state administrative law governing the development of new regulations.
Public comments on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s draft of the protocol in 2009 “dealt with every conceivable issue related to the death penalty,” Quinn told a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeal.
“There was no confusion about what the draft regulation was about.
The public was fully informed and able to comment,” Quinn maintained.
The state is appealing a 2011 decision in which Marin County Superior Court Faye D’Opal struck down the revised protocol on the ground that the CDCR violated the state’s Administrative Procedure Act.
The law requires agencies to show that new regulations are necessary and to provide a meaningful opportunity for public comment.
D’Opal ruled that among other errors, the department failed to justify why its three-drug plan was better and more effective than an alternative of using just one drug, a barbiturate.
Steven Mayer, a lawyer for condemned inmate Mitchell Sims, argued today, “At the end of the day, when you get to the heart of the case—which is the three-drug protocol—it is totally unclear why the three drugs were adopted.”
Earlier coverage of California lethal injection issues begins at the link.