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California AG to appeal death penalty ruling

[JURIST] California Attorney General Kamala Harris [official website] announced [press release] Thursday that she will appeal a recent ruling [JURIST report] striking down California's death penalty. A judge for the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] ruled earlier this month that California's use of the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution. The district court held that lengthy delays create uncertainty for death row inmates, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment. In a brief statement, Harris said, "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. This flawed ruling requires appellate review." The appeal will be brought before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website].

Use of the death penalty [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue throughout the US and internationally. In May the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged the US to impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty following a botched execution [JURIST reports] performed in Oklahoma the previous week. In April the Supreme Court of Oklahoma [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that inmates' constitutional rights were not violated by keeping the sources of lethal injection drugs secret. Earlier that month a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri [official website] allowed the continuation [JURIST report] of a lawsuit challenging a bill that would conceal the identities of individuals involved in the administration of the death penalty. A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma [official website] issued a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] in February, enjoining a pharmacy from providing a lethal injection drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections [official website]. In June 2013 North Carolina repealed a law [JURIST report] allowing minority inmates on death row to seek a reduced sentence.

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