<< Florida Post-Graham | Main | California Execution Developments >>

Does the Judiciary Aim to be Taken Seriously?


The answer is no, it does not.  As this article notes, because of mindlessly indulged dallying, the average time in California between the imposition and the carrying out of a death sentence is more than 20 years.  Here's a three paragraph sample:

Since 1978, when California reinstituted the death penalty, 14 of the state's inmates have been executed ---- including one actually executed in Missouri for crimes committed in that state.

More than five times that number ---- 75 condemned inmates ---- have died of natural causes, suicide or other reasons, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The last five executions took place after condemned inmates had each spent more than 20 years on death row.

The father of one murder victim said, with understandable bitterness,

"California's idea of the death penalty is to bore them to death," said Roy Coe, whose daughter was murdered when she interrupted a burglary in her Vista home in 2005.

We have the death penalty to begin with because our citizens are serious.  They understand that some crimes are so grotesque that nothing else will do.  California's delays are beyond absurd, and unnecessary (the delay in Virginia is seven years).  It's past time for California's judges either to become as serious as its citizens, or find another line of work.


The judiciary certainly bears a heavy share of the blame for the state-court portion of the delay, but I put the primary blame there on the Legislature, which is run by people who do not want the system to work.

These delays (and last minute stays) are beyond cruel for the victims' families. It's long past time for this problem to be solved. AEDPA was passed so that there could be a set of appeals/review and then a date could be set and an execution carried out. Now, multiple last-minute appeals are routine, and sometimes they are successful, which is doubly cruel to the victims' families. Even the US Supreme Court has behaved irresponsibly, rewarding dilatory tactics with the issuance of stays, stays which fly in the face of its own opinions. This solicitousness towards capital murderers and the tactics of defense counsel needs to end.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives