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News Scan

Judge Issues Tentative Ruling on California's New Execution Protocol: Paul Elias of the Associated Press reports Marin County Superior Judge Faye D'Opal ruled Thursday that California prison officials failed to properly adopt the state's new lethal injection execution procedures. D'Opal tentatively ruled the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to comply with the Administration Procedures Act on numerous grounds. Attorneys for the CDCR will have the chance to argue before the judge at a hearing Friday, when she will decide whether to finalize her decision. Prison officials drafted these new regulations in response to a federal lawsuit filed by condemned inmate Michael Morales in 2006 that said California's lethal injection procedure amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Last year condemned inmate Mitchell Sims filed a lawsuit challenging the new regulations, on which D'Opal ruled yesterday are not adequate. If the ruling stands, prison officials can appeal the decision, or will have to again revise their lethal injection procedures and submit them for public comment. D'Opal's tentative ruling is here, pages 4-12.

States Seek to Delay Action on Immigration Laws: Kate Brumback of the Associated Press reports the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to rule on Arizona's controversial immigration law has caused other states to call for delayed legal action on their immigration laws pending the high court's decision. On Thursday Alabama and Georgia asked to delay court hearings set for early next year before the 11 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson requested that the state's law go in to effect as scheduled on January 1, after opponents asked a federal judge to delay the law until challenges by the federal government are resolved. Utah's AG's office said it does not plan to seek a delay. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he is still considering whether or not to seek a stay in the state's case. "It's a welcomed development that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Arizona case to provide the only real guidance coming out of Washington on the issue of immigration," Zoeller said.

Ohio Sets Two Execution Dates: The Associated Press reports the Ohio Supreme Court has set execution dates for Ronald Phillips and Dennis McGuire. Phillips is set to be put to death November 14, 2013 for murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter. McGuire is scheduled to be executed on January 16, 2014 for raping and stabbing to death a pregnant woman. 


Do you all think it likely that the Marin County decision will be appealed to the California Supreme Court if Judge D'Opal doesn't change her decision? I'd imagine that there'd be a fairly good chance that the California Supreme Court would end up upholding the protocol.

Another question: does anyone know what's behind the way the Ohio Supreme Court sets execution dates? I thought they'd decided on no more than one every three weeks, which somehow seemed to have morphed into no more than once a month. Now, it's evident that they've also been skipping lots of months: they are December 2011, March 2012, May 2012, August 2012, October 2012, December 2012, February 2013, April 2013, June 2013, July 2013, October 2013 and December 2013. http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/showthread.php?3844-Update-on-Ohio-Death-Row-Inmate-Status&highlight=ohio+status (bottom of the page). If the Ohio Supreme Court were to set one execution date every three weeks, as per their original request, Ohio could execute 17 murderers a year without the absurdity of setting dates as much as two years in advance.

Strategy for dealing with the Marin decision is still under discussion.

For Ohio, one of our regular readers knows much more than I do, and perhaps he will chime in here.

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