California Execution Blocked by Two Courts

September 29, 2010

California may be keeping its moratorium in place… for now. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has blocked the Thursday night execution of Albert Brown.  In a separate ruling, the California Supreme Court also blocked Brown’s execution.

Judge Fogel’s decision was a reversal of the one he made last Friday, in which he said Brown’s execution could go forward after Brown himself chose between a single-injection method or a three-drug cocktail. Questions arose, however, when it was discovered that the state’s supply of sodium thiopental, an anesthetic used in executions, is good only until Friday, mere hours after Brown’s scheduled execution. Not only that, but the state only has 7 grams  of the substance on hand.

Earlier, a federal appellate panel had raised concerns about this revelation of the drug’s impending expiration, and wrote: “It is incredible to think that the deliberative process might be driven by the expiration date of the execution drug.”

Judge Fogel noted that the drug’s imminent expiration was a “fact that the defendants did not disclose to this court.” He also said there was “‘no way’ the court could conduct a proper review” before Brown was scheduled to die.