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Death Penalty California's longest-serving death row inmate had his death sentence overturned for the third time yesterday, after a unanimous ruling by a Ninth Circuit panel. The decision in Frierson v. Woodford is reported by Associated Press writer Lisa Leff.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the execution of Clarence Hill is set for Wednesday, and the AP reports that it may well occur as scheduled. Hill won a Pyrrhic victory in the Supreme Court earlier this year in Hill v. McDonough, where the Court ruled that a challenge to lethal injection could be brought as a civil rights suit, but it was subject to dismissal if brought too late. The federal district judge ruled on September 1 that Hill's suit was indeed brought too late, five years after the issue had been fully considered by the Florida Supreme Court in another case. The Eleventh Circuit opinion denying a stay is here.

The AP story quotes the lawyer who brought the eleventh-hour claim as saying, "the state has attempted to manipulate the process...." Jack Taylor, brother of Officer Stephen Taylor who was murdered by Hill, says, "When it comes to the fact that he will be uncomfortable when he dies, that is bull."

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Let's hope that Mr. Taylor will not be disappointed again.

The lawyer's statement about the state manipulating the process shows a bit of temerity, to understate the matter. The sad thing is that the lawyer probably believes it.

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