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CJLF Files Trailblazing Petition to Restart California Executions

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The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation today filed a petition for writ of mandate on behalf of Bradley Winchell, the brother of Terri Winchell, to order the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to take the steps necessary to restart executions in California.  Michael Angelo Morales murdered Terri Winchell in 1981 and was sentenced to death in 1983.  The 23 years of appeals and habeas review were bad enough, but the execution of Morales has been delayed another 6 years, and counting, by litigation over lethal injection and CDCR's failure to take the steps necessary to end it.

This suit is the first of its type to invoke the standing given to victims by Proposition 9 of 2008, the Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy's Law.  Former California Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson are co-counsel on the petition.

In the federal litigation initiated by Morales, the federal court has ruled three times that California could proceed with executions if it simply replaced its three-drug method with a single-drug method.  Although Ohio, Washington, and Arizona have successfully adopted this method, CDCR stubbornly refuses to do, leaving in force an injunction against Morales's execution that it could have lifted six years ago.

CDCR has further allowed litigation under the Administrative Procedure Act to block executions, despite California Supreme Court precedent to the contrary and despite the existence of multiple available exceptions to that Act.

The action was announced this morning at a press conference at CJLF's office.  The press release is here.

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I am so grateful for your filing of this courageous and historic petition for writ of mandate. My lady of justice is smiling today.Thank you for standing up for justice and for your support of victims in California whose loved ones were brutally murdered by death row inmates.

Mom of fallen officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg Police Dept., eow 4/24/05

That this is necessary speaks volumes about the appalling cruelty inflicted on the family of Teri Winchell. All the players should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

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