California, with more than 650 people on death row, may have to redesign how to execute condemned inmates by lethal injection, under a tentative ruling yesterday by a Marin County judge, reports the Los Angeles Times. The decision cast more uncertainty on California’s death penalty, already on a de facto moratorium for the last 20 months because of a constitutional challenge to lethal injection. Last December, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose ruled that inmates on California’s death row run an unnecessary risk of excessive pain.
In response to Fogel’s ruling, the state started building a new death chamber and revised lethal injection guidelines, largely behind closed doors. Two inmates sued, saying that state corrections officials made a “deliberate and undisputed” decision to ignore the Administrative Procedure Act, which called for public scrutiny of the state’s overhaul. Said Claire Pastore, an attorney for the inmates: “We want the public to know what government is doing.”