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