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Cruel And Unusual Punishment

November 29, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
California's procedures for executing prisoners by lethal injection fall short of standards set by the veterinary profession for animal euthanasia and were formulated with less care than methods in China, the world leader in capital punishment, according to a brief filed Tuesday in San Jose federal court by attorneys for a death row inmate.
September 30, 2006 | Colin Dayan, COLIN DAYAN, who teaches the legal and religious history of the Americas at Vanderbilt University, is the author of "The Story of Cruel and Unusual," forthcoming from Boston Review/MIT Press.
FOR THE LAST WEEK, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has been considering the case of Michael Morales, who was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Terri Winchell in Lodi, Calif. The question facing the judge is whether lethal injection -- California's preferred method of execution -- violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment. But what exactly is cruel? And what's unusual?
September 26, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
California's execution of condemned inmates by lethal injection will be put to its most stringent test ever at a hearing scheduled to start today in San Jose federal court. Attorneys for Michael Morales, who was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Terri Lynn Winchell in Lodi, will try to show that California's procedures violate the 8th Amendment to the Constitution because they may inflict unreasonable pain upon inmates.
June 13, 2006 | David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
The Supreme Court opened the door Monday for two new challenges to the death penalty, allowing the use of new DNA evidence to contest an old murder conviction and allowing an appeal based on the practice of lethal injection. In House vs. Bell, the court held for the first time that DNA evidence that undercuts a defendant's guilt is reason enough for a federal judge to reopen a case. The second case acknowledges the new research that suggests lethal injections could cause intense pain.
April 27, 2006 | David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer
The Supreme Court justices sounded split along conservative and liberal lines Wednesday during arguments on whether injections may be a cruel and painful method of execution. The justices are not likely to decide that ultimate question in the Florida case at hand, which focuses on a narrow issue. But the arguments offered insights into how the high court viewed the issue.
March 31, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
In a highly unusual move, a federal judge on Thursday personally examined the execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison as part of a legal challenge to the state's lethal injection procedure. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel, whose rulings on the lethal injection challenge triggered an 11th-hour halt to Michael A. Morales' execution in February, told attorneys who accompanied him that the tour was "very useful to me."
February 23, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
By halting the execution of convicted murderer Michael Morales this week, California finds itself at the forefront of a growing debate about whether being put to death by lethal injection is more humane than other methods or in reality masks a painful end. The question is likely to intensify in the coming months as the U.S.
January 27, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
A federal judge on Thursday set a Feb. 9 hearing to consider a condemned inmate's claims that California's lethal injection procedures violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose refused to call an immediate halt to Michael A. Morales' Feb. 21 execution, but agreed to hear a motion for a preliminary injunction well before the death date.
January 26, 2006 | From Associated Press
Hours after staying the execution of an inmate already strapped to a gurney at a Florida prison, the Supreme Court said Wednesday it would hear his arguments that the drug cocktail in lethal injections could cause excruciating pain. Lethal injections are used in most states with capital punishment, and dispute has been growing over the way the executions are carried out. The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether a specific form of execution is cruel and unusual punishment.
October 18, 2005 | From Times Wire Reports
The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously rejected claims that the three-drug combination used to execute killers can cause extreme pain in violation of the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Lawyers for Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, who was sentenced to die by lethal injection in the 1986 beating death of a Nashville drug dealer, had sought to change the state's method of execution. Abdur'Rahman's lawyer Bradley MacLean said he would appeal. The U.S.
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