With California’s method of execution under attack, a San Jose federal judge yesterday toured the death chamber and received an unprecedented tutorial on how a condemned inmate is put to death by a lethal progression of drugs, reports the San Jose Mercury News. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel’s trip marked an unusual foray into the machinery of California’s execution process. Fogel, accompanied by an entourage of lawyers and other officials, went to San Quentin prison on a fact-finding mission as he considers a death row inmate’s claim that the state’s lethal injection procedures amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
The prison session included hours of testimony from the head of San Quentin’s 13-member execution team, who provided a step-by-step description of every detail in the process of injecting a condemned inmate with three drugs. Reporters from the Mercury News and Sacramento Bee accompanied Fogel. Fogel allowed reporters to attend over the objections of officials who argued it would compromise the privacy and security of the execution team official testifying.