A federal appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling that found California’s death penalty to be so plagued with delays that it’s unconstitutional.
Unlike other court cases that have focused on how California executes inmates – such as whether its three-drug lethal injection method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment – this case centered on the appeals process before an execution.
The lower court said last year the process took so long and was so uncertain that it was unconstitutional. Now, a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed that ruling, saying that the case puts forth a new constitutional theory that must be denied.
In recent days, the state corrections department has proposed a single lethal injection to replace the three-drug method – the latest step toward restarting executions in California.
The state has put just 13 condemned inmates to death since California voters passed the state’s current death penalty system in 1978.