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Cruel And Unusual Punishment

December 19, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday ordered his administration to fix problems in California's lethal injection protocol "to ensure the death penalty procedure is constitutional." Schwarzenegger acted in response to a stinging decision issued Friday by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, who said the state's system "is broken, but ... can be fixed."
December 16, 2006 | Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday suspended executions until at least March while investigators examine why it took more than half an hour for a lethal injection to kill a convicted murderer. Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, appeared to grimace in pain and struggle for breath during the Wednesday night execution until a second dose of the fatal drugs was administered, according to witnesses. The execution at Florida State Prison in Starke took 34 minutes, three times longer than usual.
December 16, 2006 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
A federal judge in San Jose ruled Friday that California's application of its lethal injection death penalty procedure violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The state's system "is broken, but it can be fixed," U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel said in a 17-page ruling that makes it unlikely that any death sentences will be carried out in California in the near future.
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.
October 2, 2006 | Maura Dolan and Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writers
"Operational Procedure No. 770," the state's name for execution by lethal injection, is performed in a dark, cramped room by men and women who know little, if anything, about the deadly drugs they inject under extreme stress. Thousands of pages of depositions and four days of testimony last week in a federal courtroom here provided the most intimate portrait yet of a state's lethal injection methods.
September 30, 2006 | Henry Weinstein and Maura Dolan, Times Staff Writers
The most detailed hearing ever held on lethal injection in California concluded Friday with a judge exploring a new drug protocol that could prolong condemned individuals' deaths but also reduce the risk of an inmate experiencing excruciating pain. The current procedures call for a three-drug cocktail including a barbiturate anesthetic, a muscle-paralyzing drug and a heart-stopping chemical.
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 29, 2006 | Henry Weinstein and Maura Dolan, Times Staff Writers
A federal judge deciding the future of lethal injection in California said Thursday that he was "troubled" that one of the drugs used during several executions had failed to quickly end inmates' breathing. During the third day of a trial on the constitutionality of lethal injection, U.S.
September 28, 2006 | Maura Dolan and Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writers
Some condemned inmates executed by lethal injection may have been conscious when they received a drug that causes suffocation and "excruciating" sensations comparable to drowning or strangulation, an anesthesiologist who has reviewed state execution logs testified Wednesday. Dr.
September 27, 2006 | Henry Weinstein and Maura Dolan, Times Staff Writers
During the first day of a trial on the constitutionality of California's lethal injection method of execution, an expert on pharmacology said the drug used to anesthetize inmates wears off "extremely fast" and potentially exposes prisoners to painful deaths. "There is a possibility that inmates could emerge [from unconsciousness] and experience a painful execution," Dr. William Ebling, who has done extensive research on anesthetics, testified Tuesday in a San Jose federal courtroom.
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