California Death Penalty Measure Survives, But With Limits


Publish Date:
August 24, 2017
  • Thanawala, Sudhin,
  • Melley, Brian
The Washington Post (AP)
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A voter-approved measure to speed up executions in California was upheld Thursday by the state Supreme Court, but justices rejected arguments that a provision setting a five-year limit on appeals was mandatory, raising doubts that the law will succeed in accelerating death sentences.

“What happened here is that the Supreme Court of California has kicked the can down the road,” said Franklin Zimring, an expert in capital punishment at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

“Various people in the judicial system might say, ‘I feel an obligation to move these cases faster,’” he said.

But without a mandate, Weisberg said, others might view the deadline as “meaningless, and therefore nothing may change.”

In a dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar said Proposition 66 clearly contained a mandatory five-year deadline for courts to complete appeals — a requirement he said was illegal. He accused the majority of misconstruing the deadline as merely an aspirational goal and validating a “bait-and-switch” on voters by the measure’s supporters.

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