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Cal. DAs Pushing for 1-Drug Executions

Bob Egelko has this story in the SF Chron on the motion of the Los Angeles DA to force the adoption of the single-drug method of executions in place of the three-drug method which has been preliminarily enjoined by a federal district court.  Last winter, I concluded we could not rely on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to aggressively pursue lifting the stay, outlined an alternative legal strategy, and urged the DAs to pursue it.  Los Angeles picked up the challenge first and filed motions for the trial court to order adoption of a protocol and set execution dates for Mitchell Sims and Tiequon Cox.  San Mateo County has a similar motion pending in the case of Robert Fairbank.

LA DDA Michele Hanisee is quoted in the story.  She smells a rat in the state executive branch.

"In my opinion, the top-down marching orders are to drag things out as slowly as possible," the prosecutor said. When state officials assigned to carry out sentences "refuse to perform their duties," she said, a judge can require them to do so by ordering one-drug executions - an order that federal courts have upheld in other states.
The story also quotes two "experts" on the propriety of a judge ordering the switch:

By law, "the power to implement sentences is delegated to the (state) CDCR," said Robert Weisberg, founder and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. "I don't think a judge can choose a type of execution if that particular choice hasn't been ratified by the state."

Allowing a prosecutor and a single judge to override prison officials' choices on execution methods would "turn the structure of state government upside down," said Franklin Zimring of UC Berkeley.
Nonsense.  There is nothing "upside down" about a court ordering an executive officer to take an action if the officer's choice is contrary to the law.  CDCR does have considerable discretion in this matter, but an agency's discretion does not extend to disabling itself from carrying out its duties to execute the law.  There are 13 cases where all reviews of the sentence have been completing and nothing remains but to execute, and CDCR has needlessly allowed itself to be enjoined from carrying out its duty.

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