A San Jose federal judge on Thursday suggested he may be willing to postpone California’s next scheduled execution later this month so he can hold a full-blown evidentiary hearing to consider a constitutional challenge to the state’s lethal-injection procedure.
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel did not rule on convicted killer Michael Morales’ bid to delay his Feb. 21 execution date, but said he would issue a decision by Tuesday on whether his legal challenge to lethal injection deserves more thorough consideration. Morales’ lawyers argue the state’s lethal-injection method amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
Noting that similar challenges have been filed on the eve of other recent executions, Fogel indicated the time may be ripe to address the central issues.
“It seems to me that people’s confidence in the integrity of this process may be assisted by some sort of evidentiary proceeding,” Fogel said. ``There is a window of opportunity here.”
If Fogel holds a hearing to consider expert testimony and other evidence related to the constitutionality of lethal injection, it could be no more than a temporary reprieve for Morales. The judge said he believed he could hold such a hearing within 60 to 90 days, so if Morales loses, he could face another execution date later this year.
Window of opportunity for what? Morales was originally convicted of murder which was committed in 1981 – over 25 years ago.
This delay is BS.
Assistant Attorney General Dane Gillette, who opposes any delay, said the state would appeal a stay.
Morales was sentenced to die for the 1981 rape and murder of a 17-year-old Lodi girl. He is one of many death row inmates around the nation who argue that the progression of drugs used in executions masks pain and suffering that would violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Most legal experts doubt the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually ban the use of lethal injection, but it could be a year or more before the issue is resolved in the lower courts.
Morales’ lawyers hope to use medical and eyewitness evidence from other California executions to prove problems in the process, one of the reasons the judge is considering the need for testimony and more detailed information. State prosecutors and death penalty supporters say there is no evidence inmates suffer in lethal injection executions.
Meanwhile, Morales’ lawyers on Thursday asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to hold a hearing to consider his request for clemency. Morales has backing from the judge who sentenced him to die, as well as six jurors at his 1983 trial. San Joaquin County prosecutors oppose clemency, saying Morales’ crime was particularly brutal.
More dealy is unwarranted and is simply a tactic to forestall the inevitable – the “BIG JAB” for Morales.
Flap will have more on the six Ventura County jurors in a subsequent post – it seems letters submitted by Morales’ attorneys last week to Gov. Schwarzenegger misstate the feelings of six Ventura County jurors who convicted Morales.
Justice for Terri Lynn Winchell…..
Michael Angelo Morales Watch: Ventura County Judge Asks California Governor Schwarzenegger for Clemency
Michael Angelo Morales Watch: Kenneth Starr to Assist Death Row Clemency Bid