Saturday, 24 February 2007

Judge for now keeps process secret in Morales appeal (6:35 p.m.)

Judge for now keeps process secret in Morales appeal (6:35 p.m.)
February 23, 2007 9:33 PM

SAN JOSE — A federal judge overseeing a condemned Stockton man’s challenges to California’s lethal injection procedures said today that he will wait until officials unveil a new execution protocol to decide if the state has to reveal the methods and people behind how it was created.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel made the decision in response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and officials of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations who sought secrecy while fixing the lethal injection procedure.

Today’s ruling stemmed from constitutional challenges to lethal injection raised by Stockton’s Michael Angelo Morales, 47, who had been scheduled to die Feb. 21, 2006, for the 1981 rape and murder of teen Terri Lynn Winchell.

State officials had argued for secrecy as they create the new procedure. The deliberations would be “chilled” if experts enlisted for help — possibly including some from the medical community — feared being called to testify in open court.

For more on this story, see Saturday's Record.

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