California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Thursday the state will appeal Santa Ana-based federal Judge Cormac Carney's ruling that found the state's death penalty system is unconstitutional.
"I am appealing the court's decision because it is not supported by the law, and it undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants," Harris said. "This flawed ruling requires appellate review."
In a 29-page ruling overturning the death sentence of a man accused of killing his girlfriend's mother in Los Angeles in 1992, Carney wrote in June that the prisoner is among more than 900 people who have been sentenced to death in California since the current system was adopted by voters here in 1978.
"Of them, only 13 have been executed," noted the George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench. "For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution. Indeed, for most, systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death."
The center of the case, Ernest Dewayne Jones, was sentenced to death in Los Angeles in 1995 and has remained on California's death row ever since awaiting execution, "but with complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether, it will ever come,'' Carney wrote. `