Federal court upholds California’s death penalty system

November 12, 2015

justice 2A federal appellate court has reversed a ruling that declared California’s capital punishment system unconstitutional. [LA Times]

In July 2014, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled California’s death penalty system was unconstitutional, stating executions had become arbitrary and plagued with delays. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Carney’s decision.

The appellate panel reached a unanimous decision that long delays faced by prisoners on death row do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The panel also struck down the previous ruling on the grounds that federal judges may not consider new constitutional theories in cases of habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is the legal action prisoners can take to challenge their confinement. Judge Susan P. Graber stated the purpose of habeas corpus is to ensure the conviction complied with federal law that existed at the time time, not to reexamine judgments based on legal doctrine that emerged later.

The case in question is that of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to death in 1995 for the rape and killing of his girlfriend’s mother. Jones’ lawyers can appeal Thursday’s ruling to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit.


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11 Comments

  1. indigo1955 says:

    Planet Earth: Depraved in every possible conceptualized definition that exists.

    (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    Swift justice, speedy trial, not if there is money to be harveste, an eye for an eye is old school. It’s unfortunate that there is an occasional errors but then again war is intentionally allot worse.

    (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
  3. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    These long delays are usually caused by endless appeals, which is not the state’s fault. With DNA, cameras, etc., the guilt is not usually in question but rather the process of the trial. The Constitution requires a fair trial, not a perfect one.

    (11) 21 Total Votes - 16 up - 5 down
  4. agag1 says:

    “Long delays faced by prisoners on death row do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.”

    For the taxpayers they do.

    (21) 27 Total Votes - 24 up - 3 down
    • hijinks says:

      A life sentence is far easier on taxpayers than executing someone. Keeping someone in prison for 40 years is several hundreds of thousand$$. Executing somebody costs million$$. And, no, it’s not just because of appeals. There’s a lot more to it. Short story: if you’re concerned about costs, get rid of death penalty, keep murderers in jail forever.

      (-12) 30 Total Votes - 9 up - 21 down
      • kayaknut says:

        I think you are forgetting the other costs when keeping someone in jail for life, salaries, pensions, building new prisons, medical and on and on and on. I think your 40 years equals several 100 of 1,000’s is way off. The whole prison system is not just for keeping criminals locked up but it is also for keeping the gravy train of money going to feed to whole system. I say start following through with some of the death penalties, starting off with Manson, and then we can see.

        (12) 20 Total Votes - 16 up - 4 down
      • SLOBIRD says:

        hijinks, your numbers are correct back in the day because there was no end to appeals, expert testimony, hearings, appeals, attorneys, etc. Today, with all the DNA, cameras, etc. you have a trial, guilty or not guilty, if guilty one appeal, and move on. We all know they are a ton of prisoners sitting on death that without question are guilty. San Luis has sveral itself sitting up there. Let’s move them through the process of all concerned. These animals will never be fit to walk amongst us!

        (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
        • hijinks says:

          The public has a poor understanding of the facts of how complicated executing someone actually is. That lack of factual understanding is part of the problem with doing anything about it. K-nut, my numbers take all those things into consideration. Short story, taxpayers are better off with life imprisonment of bad people. Slobird, it’s a lot more complex. The state’s prosecutors must take years to go through all the stuff to make sure they’re really putting the right person to death. Appeals start after that, and there can be a whole string of them on a whole lot of issues. If you know what lawyers cost, you can understand that adds up to a ton of money and cost to taxpayers which doesn’t happen with life in prison sentences. If taxpayers are concerned about money, life in prison makes far more sense.

          Here’s a story that tells a bit more about the recent court decision:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/13/us/federal-appeals-panel-overturns-anti-death-penalty-ruling-in-california.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

          From that it’s clear that the costs of capital punishment just go up and up and up.

          (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
          • kayaknut says:

            Some also have a poor understanding of the true costs to keep a person in prison for life. Please provide the proof to your figures, without that your figures have no support.

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
            • hijinks says:

              Hey, K-nut, seems you don’t want to do the work yourself. So here’s a thought. Google “relative costs of capital punishment and life in prison” and see all the informative stuff that pops up. If those facts still don’t convince you capital punishment is taxpayer punishment, it seems you’re either just not interested in facts, or think it’s dandy for taxpayers to be ripped off by the “justice” system’s pandering to prejudices that capital punishment is the way to go.

              (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • Pelican1 says:

      And the victims families.

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down

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