Jeremy Fogel, the San Jose federal judge who five years ago halted executions in California, is leaving the bench and most likely a contentious death penalty case to head the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles Times reports. Executions have been on hold in California since Fogel stepped in on the eve of a 2006 lethal injection to weigh whether poor training and cramped conditions at the San Quentin death chamber had exposed previous condemned men to pain amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.
He later ruled 10 months later that the state procedures needed reform. Fogel remains a judge while heading the judicial center, but it is not clear whether he would have time to retain the death penalty case. “It depends on what the rules are that govern this, whether there is an absolute requirement that judges give up their entire caseload or if there are exceptions,” said Fogel, 61. “If there are exceptions, then it’s really up to me. But I’m just getting a handle on how much the demands of my new job are going to affect it.”