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LA DA Moves for Execution Dates

The Los Angeles District Attorney has filed a motion in LA Superior Court to set execution dates for two murderers -- Mitchell Sims and Tiequon Cox -- and to direct that the execution be carried out with a single-drug protocol.  The DA's press release is here.

The legal theory in this motion is, in part, the same as in CJLF's petition for writ of mandate, noted in this post.  The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a duty to execute these sentences.  While that department has broad discretion on the specifics, continuing to litigate the enjoined three-drug protocol for years after the federal court has given the go-ahead to resume executions with a one-drug protocol is an abuse of that discretion.

The other problem is the Administrative Procedure Act.  California Supreme Court precedent is clear that APA litigation cannot be used to block enforcement of the underlying law.  Even if the implementing regulation is invalid, the court can and should enforce the underlying statute, even if the court's decision is the same as the APA-noncompliant regulation.  Judicial action is not subject to the APA.

There are 14 California murderers who have completed all the normal reviews of their cases.  The crimes and cases are described in this document.

Update:  Dan Whitcomb of Reuters has this article on the motion.  He quotes Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Half-Truth Center expressing skepticism and saying, "It's not as simple as just changing to one drug."  Of course it's not as simple.  There is the Administrative Procedure Act question, but the motion addresses that.  I suspect Dieter was reacting to a one-line summary without reading the actual motion, tempting but always dangerous.

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