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L.A. Case Brings California Closer To 1-Drug Executions

Publication Date: 
August 07, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Professor Robert Weisberg spoke with the SF Chronicle's Bob Egelko on the state power to determine the form of execution used in death penalty cases.

It's been 6 1/2 years since California's last execution, and nearly that long since a federal judge suggested that the state replace its challenged three-drug sequence with a single, fatal dose of a powerful anesthetic - a change that prosecutors in Los Angeles are now demanding in a potentially precedent-setting case.

When U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose first raised the issue in February 2006, all 37 states with lethal-injection laws used the same formula: an anesthetic to render the prisoner unconscious, a second drug to paralyze the muscles and a third to stop the heart.


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."