California Judge Declares State Executions Unlawful

A federal judge in San Jose has declared Calfornia's lethal injection system to be in violation of the 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

[Judge] Fogel said that "substantial questions" had been raised by the records of previous executions in the state and that the California Department of Corrections' "actions and failure to act have resulted in an undue and unnecessary risk of an 8th Amendment violation."

The opinion is here (pdf). Check out Footnote 8 on how the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams:

Indeed, the execution team members’ reaction to the problem at the Williams execution was
described by one member as nothing more than “sh*t does happen, so.”

< Florida Halts Executions After Botched One Lasted 34 Minutes | Rumsfeld Bids Adieu, He's Gone >
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    probably the closest is (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 12:29:37 AM EST
    beheading by guillotine. it takes roughly (with a sharpened blade) 1/270th of a second for the blade to sever the head from the body.

    the only recorded instance of it not immediately working, and the executioner and his aide having to finish the job, by practically standing on the blade to push it all the way through, was the execution of louis XVI. this was because louis' neck was so thick (he was rather portly), and the blade so dull, it just couldn't do the job.

    reportedly, the executioner was concerned this might happen, and pleaded to be allowed to sharpen the blade first, and add a little extra weight to it, before the execution. however, such was the hurry to do louis in, that the executioner's plea fell on deaf ears. they should've listened to the professional.

    aside from that, it's worked perfectly. now, if you can do something about the gushing arterial blood, and the terror of the condemned, there's your perfect execution device.

    the best part is, no licensed medical personnel need be involved, to determine that death has occurred.

    *snark alert!

    A moment of pain? Too bad (1.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Pancho on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 09:58:07 AM EST
    This is the guy that filed the lawsuit

    I don't care how painful his death is. Do you feel the same compassion for the girl that he raped and murdered?

    Compassion (none / 0) (#8)
    by syinco on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 07:19:57 PM EST
    Do I feel the same compassion?  No.  They are very different situations, why should I feel the same response?

    Do I feel a high degree of compassion for his victim, and those who loved her?  Of course.

    As do I feel a high degree of compassion for this offender's family and loved ones.  And generally, for the offender himself.  

    I don't think that I would be right to punish, or have the state act in my name to punish, if I were devoid of compassion toward the offender.

    Why is it that you seem to imply that compassion for an offender and compassion for a victim are mutually exclusive?


    It is simple (1.00 / 0) (#9)
    by Pancho on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 12:02:07 AM EST
    the killer and the victim are not equivalent. HE created the situation and he has been lucky to have outlived his victim by 25 years.

    I am all for painless executions, in fact I would be happy to let the ACLU choose its' preferred method, but that's not really what this is about is it?


    A step forward (none / 0) (#1)
    by Al on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 05:50:28 PM EST
    It seems pretty clear by now that the claim that the lethal injection method was humane and painless is false.

    An even bigger step forward would be to admit that there is no humane way of killing someone.

    Holy (none / 0) (#3)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 04:20:52 AM EST
    Dr. Pou, Batman!

    Pancho (none / 0) (#5)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 10:22:42 AM EST
    This is not about compassion. Killing Ortega only makes us just like him. You have too much blind faith in our justice system, and you personalize each case. Stay objective. It's better to kill no one than to kill any one by mistake. And with over 130 people taken off death row because of faulty convictions, our justice system is far from perfect.

    I don't want the innocent executed either, (1.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Pancho on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 12:07:11 AM EST
    but this is about the unquestionably guilty, like OJ.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on the leftist darling Mumia. What a snow job the Left has been handed on his "innocence".


    pancho (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 02:25:07 PM EST
    no one even remotely suggested the guy was a saint. most of those on death row aren't. they should be locked up for the rest of their natural (and, in some cases, unnatural) lives.

    the problem, as che alluded to, is that executing people, regardless of how worthy they are deemed to be for it, makes me complicit in murder. you can call it what you will, execution by the state, is nothing less than sanctioned murder.

    as well, all murderers (and most are on death row for that) are not treated equally. cases where the actual killer gets off with a life sentence, while an accomplice, who was driving the getaway car, gets death, should make even you question the fairness of such a system.

    the system itself is broken, as witnessed by recent DNA exonerations. until it can be fixed, and i doubt it can be, we certainly have enough prison space available to house these people for life.

    as far as "closure" for the victim's family, i would hope that knowing the killer won't really have a life should offer some sense of it, without requiring that another useless murder occur.

    after all, the crime is against the state, not them.

    full disclosure: the one exception i make is for pedophiles. i'll happily flip the switch or push the button. that makes me a hypocrite, a problem i can live with.

    Many wider issues (none / 0) (#7)
    by HK on Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 06:01:57 PM EST
    It is good that this ruling addresses the fact that there are many problems with the lethal injection procedure in CA, but unfortunate that the nature of the challenge does not allow for wider examination of capital punishment and how it is implemented.

    cpinva, while I appreciate that peodophiles commit crimes that are particularly difficult to accept and understand, it is important to remember that miscarriages of justice are more likely to occur in cases where the crime has been the souce of much outrage as officials, in their haste to secure a conviction, are more likely to overlook evidence and procedure.  We should also remember that although criminals themselves are difficult to empathise with, their families are the hidden victims of the death penalty.  Loved ones of death row inmates are victims of wholly preventable homicide.  MVFHR has addressed this issue with its new No Silence, No Shame project.

    Mike Morales, who brought this legal challenge to the lethal injection in CA, is a good friend of mine.  The nature of the crime of which he is convicted shocks me to the core.  It is entirely possible to like, love and support a person without condoning what they have done.

    Human rights are human rights across the board.  What I believe is an acceptable way to treat another person is not based on what other people have or have not done.