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Calif Executions Unconstitutional

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posted on Dec, 16 2006 @ 05:01 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge who imposed a moratorium on state executions ruled Friday that the current method of lethal injection violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

California's "implementation of lethal injection is broken, but it can be fixed," U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel said.

Fogel said the case presented the narrow question of whether a three-drug cocktail administered by San Quentin State Prison officials is so painful that it "offends" the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Fogel said he was compelled "to answer that question in the affirmative."

The decision is the latest in a nationwide challenge to lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment and came just after Florida Gov. Jeb Bush suspended all executions in that state after a botched execution this week.

Lethal injection is the preferred execution method in 37 states.

Last month, a federal judge declared Missouri's injection method, which is similar to California's, unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld executions - by hanging, firing squad, electric chair and gas chamber - despite the pain they might cause, but has left unsettled the issue of whether the pain is unconstitutionally excessive.

California has been under a capital punishment moratorium since February, when Fogel called off the execution of rapist and murderer Michael Morales amid concerns inmates might suffer excruciating deaths.

Fogel found substantial evidence that the last six men executed at San Quentin might have been conscious because they were still breathing when lethal drugs were administered.

He ordered anesthesiologists to be on hand, or demanded that a licensed medical professional inject a large, fatal dose of a sedative instead of the additional paralyzing agent and heart-stopping drugs used. No medical professional, however, was willing to participate.

Attorneys for Morales alleged in a lawsuit that Morales might appear unconscious after being injected with a sedative, but internally he would succumb to excruciating pain, "burning veins and heart failure," once the paralyzing and the death drug were administered.

Morales, 47, of Stockton, raped and brutally beat a 17-year-old Lodi girl 25 years ago. Terri Winchell was found beaten and stabbed in a secluded vineyard.

There are more than 650 men and women on California's death row, the nation's largest.

The case is Morales v. Tilton, 06-219.

Federal Judge Declares Callifornia's Executions Unconstitutional

Personally I think this is ridiculous ... these criminals on death row have already had years (and decades) worth of legal appeals and delays and this is about the most humane way to put these people to rest.

The cruel and unusal punishment angle is silly. So it burns ... that's why they give them a local anesthia first. The judge knew that when he required an anethesiologist to be present and the injection to be given by a medical professional that he was effectively putting an end to lethal injection. No medical professional will be involved in these procedures since it would go against their Hippocratic oath.

This last year or so California has seen some high profile arguments against the death penalty. From Stanley "Tookie" Williams, a founder of the Crips, one of the largest and deadliest criminal gangs in California. Here's a man who was directly responsible for numerous killings and head of an organization that commited many felonies ... but the argument was that he should be spared becuase he wrote some nice children's books.

Before that we had the case of Clarence Ray Allen ... a man who in his prime had stolen keys to a grocery store in Fresno, from his sons girlfriend and robbed the store of $15,000 (he also knew the owner personally). When the girl realized her keys went missing while at his house she told the owner who confronted Allen and accused him of the crime he committed. Allen then decided he needed to kill the 19 year old girl to prevent the truth from coming out, so he hired a friend to strangule here and toss her in a canal. As if that was not enough after he was sentenced to life in prison he arranged for a parolee to go back to the same grocery store and kill the owner and 2 employees (aged 17 and 18) in retaliation for Allen having to do prison time for his crimes. On his new crimes he was sentenced to death. The argument in his case was that this poor man was in his 70's, blind from Diabetes and had recently had a heart attack ... the only thing sad about that is it took so long for justice to be served.

I am pro-death penalty ... there are certain crimes (murder as a prime example) that can not be forgiven and certain levels of crimes that someone can not be rehabilitated from.

Let's give the criminals an option of death by lethal injection or death by the same method their victim died of and see which one they feel is more humane. Or we can go with Russia's old way of business and use a firing squad and charge the family for the cost of the bullets.

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