The reason? It takes too long and too few people are executed. Therefore, by citing some concurrences from lefty hack Supreme Court justice William Brennan, we can conclude that it violates the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
A federal judge in Southern California ruled Wednesday that California’s death penalty was unconstitutional.
The “dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system,” wrote Judge Cormac J. Carney of United States District Court, has led to “inordinate and unpredictable” delays in the execution of inmates.
The delays, the judge wrote, means that sentences are carried out against only “a trivial few of those sentenced to death.” In essence, he wrote, sentences by juries have been transformed to “life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.”
The ridiculous order can be read here (.pdf). You’ll hear plenty from lefties about how this judge, Cormac Carney, was appointed by George W. Bush — but he is the type of guy who enjoys putting his thumb in prosecutors’ eyes and basking in the resultant praise from defense attorneys. No judicial conservative would have written this opinion. It takes a glory hog, an amateur Anthony Kennedy hoping to Make Big Waves with his Bold and Courageous Decision.
The death penalty has no deterrent effect, the Learned Judge says, because it is so randomly applied. It has no real retributive effect, he says, because it is so rarely applied. The families of victims killed by monsters on Death Row would probably beg to differ — but they don’t have the lifetime appointment to the federal bench, which confers the force of law upon silly pronouncements like those made by Carney today.
The judge puts the blame for the delay squarely on the State of California. In that regard, one interesting aspect of the judge’s ruling is this footnote explaining why we have gone eight years without an execution:
These 17 inmates are awaiting execution because since 2006, federal and state courts have enjoined executions by California. In 2006, the federal district court for the Northern District of California enjoined the State from executing Death Row inmate Michael Morales on grounds that, as administered, the State’s lethal injection protocol “create[d] an undue and unnecessary risk that an inmate will suffer pain so extreme” that it violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. See Morales v. Tilton, 465 F. Supp. 2d 972, 974, 976–77 (N.D. Cal. 2006). The State subsequently amended the protocol, but because those amendments were not promulgated in compliance with the State’s Administrative Procedures Act (APA), the Marin County Superior Court enjoined executions under them. See Morales v. Cal. Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 168 Cal. App. 4th 729, 732 (2008). In response to the ruling, the State undertook to promulgate a lethal injection protocol through the APA’s rulemaking process. After the regulations went into effect in August 2010, Death Row inmate Mitchell Sims sued to enjoin executions under the amended protocol, again for failure to comply with the APA. The state court agreed, invalidating the regulations for substantial failure to comply with the requirements of the APA, and permanently enjoining executions in California until the State is able to adopt an execution protocol that complies with its own procedural law. See Sims v. Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 216 Cal. App. 4th 1059 (2013). California is therefore without any execution protocol by which to execute the 17 Death Row inmates who have been finally denied relief by both the state and federal courts, or to execute any other inmates who may similarly be denied relief in the near future.
This is actually inaccurate; the Morales court did not enjoin the state from executing Morales in the decision reported at 465 F.Supp.2d 972. As I have explained before, Judge Fogel merely threatened to halt executions, but never did. Meanwhile, I guess we are to blame California rather than, say, the Marin County judge who halted executions under the new protocol for reasons such as the failure to adequately summarize two dozen out of almost 30,000 public comments.
The death penalty in California has become a game — a game of delay played by the abolitionist forces. They run around throwing up ridiculous roadblocks and then try to blame the pro-death penalty forces for those very roadblocks.
I assume Judge Cormac Carney understands this. But he is, I believe, more interested in becoming a True Judicial Hero than he is in applying basic common sense. In that regard, he has plenty of company here in California.
I’m not saying California couldn’t do better. The state could provide more funding for lawyers and streamline the process.
But it’s ridiculous to say that Death Row murderers — who want nothing more than to delay their day of reckoning — are being treated unconstitutionally cruelly because . . . they are getting the very delay they so badly seek.