Thursday, 1 November 2007

Assemblywoman Lieber calls for halt to death chamber construction

California Political Desk
October 31, 2007

Federal and State court rulings create a moratorium on use of lethal injection procedure.

(Sacramento, CA) – Speaker pro Tempore Sally Lieber (D-San Jose) reacted today to two court decisions issued yesterday which effectively ban the use of the lethal injection procedure in California.

“Yesterday’s decisions raise serious doubt about the future legality of lethal injection. At a minimum, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation should immediately cease all spending on the construction of a new death chamber until this important issue is resolved,” Lieber said. “It is fiscally irresponsible to continue construction of an expensive facility that may never be used.”
The United States Supreme Court yesterday blocked administration of a lethal injection for the third time in a month. Legal experts have called this a ‘de facto moratorium’ on the use of the procedure nationwide. The court will hear and decide a case next year on whether this method of execution is so cruel and unusual that it violates the Constitution.

Separately, a Marin County Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling invalidating the state’s proposed new lethal injection procedures. The court declared that state law requires approval through a regulatory process, including the opportunity for public input. The CDCR has not followed that process for the new rules.

“I strongly support the reasoning of the Superior Court ruling,” Lieber said. “And with three pending court cases raising important challenges to the use of this procedure, the CDCR must act prudently and stop all construction while the courts decide the issue.”

The Marin ruling is related to a case pending before Judge Fogel in United States District Court in San Jose which created the current state moratorium in early 2006. Speaker pro Tempore Lieber has previously intervened in that case with an amicus brief, calling on the court to require the State to develop the new procedures through an open and public process. Judge Fogel is scheduled to tour the new death chamber and hear argument on the new procedures in early December.

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