In an unanimous ruling delivered on Thursday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a July 2014 opinion that California’s death penalty is unconstitutional.
The three-judge Circuit Court panel overturned the earlier decision on technical grounds, describing the 2014 ruling as failing to address whether or not death sentences are ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ as prohibited by the Eight Amendment.
Thursday’s decision reverses U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney’s 2014 adjudication the state’s death penalty was “arbitrary” and “plagued with delays.”
In deciding the case of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was convicted in 1995 for the rape and murder of Julia Miller, the Circuit Court ruled jurists cannot adjudge new legal thesis when weighing habeas corpus.
“Many agree . . . that California’s capital punishment system is dysfunctional and that the delay between sentencing and execution in California is extraordinary, but the purpose of habeas corpus is to ensure that the conviction complied with federal law that existed at the time, not to provide a mechanism for the continuing re-examination of final judgments based upon later emerging legal doctrine,” Judge Susan P. Graber wrote for the panel.
Currently, 746 inmates remain on death row in California.
[BBC] [LA Times] [cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov] [deathpenaltyinfo.org] [Photo courtesy The Daily Beast]