Release Date:  December 16, 2011
Contact:  Michael Rushford
(916) 446-0345

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According to the California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, today’s ruling by a Marin County Judge announcing that the state’s lethal injection process was not properly adopted, does not necessarily mean that executions must be halted.

Marin County Superior Court Judge Faye D’Opal issued an injunction to halt executions, ruling that the state failed to correctly follow the Administrative Procedures Act because one-drug alternative to the state’s three-drug protocol was not considered.

But according to the Foundation’s Legal Director Kent Scheidegger, executions can proceed while Judge D’Opal’s ruling is being appealed. “Under Section 5058.3(a) of the Penal Code, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation can bypass the Administrative Procedures Act for 160 days, with one renewal for 90 days, if ‘the operational needs of the department’ so require. Unlike other departments, it is not necessary to declare an ‘emergency.’ Carrying out a valid judgment is an operational need,” said Scheidegger.

“Further delay of executions pending appeal of this ruling is not necessary. California currently has 12 murderers on death row whose convictions and sentences have been upheld after exhausting all of their state and federal appeals.”

The cases range from David Raley who was sentenced to death in 1988 for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Jeanine Grinsell and the attempted murder of 17-year-old Laurie McKenna, to the 1979 death sentence of Stevie Fields for the murder of USC student librarian Rosemary Cobbs, during a three-week crime spree, which included the kidnaping, robbery, and sexual assault of three other women and the armed robbery of a man.

CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.
Foundation arguments helped win five United States Supreme Court decisions benefitting law enforcement and public safety during the Court’s previous term.