Judge Rules California's Death Penalty Unconstitutional

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The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. (Scott Shafer/KQED)

A federal judge in Orange County ruled on Wednesday that California's death penalty violates the U.S. constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment because of decades-long delays in executions. Judge Cormac Carney, ruling on death row inmate Ernest Jones' appeal, said the state's death penalty is a "system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones... determine whether an individual will actually be executed." We discuss the ruling and whether it will hold up when challenged in higher courts.


Howard Mintz, legal affairs writer with the San Jose Mercury News

Matt Cherry, executive director of Death Penalty Focus

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation