SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge cleared the way Friday for California's first execution since 2006, citing the state's efforts to revise its lethal injection procedure amid court concerns that it had amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel said in his ruling the execution of convicted killer and rapist Albert Greenwood Brown could proceed Wednesday.
Brown's execution would be the first in the state since Fogel placed a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in California and ordered prison officials to overhaul the process.
The attorney general's office argued this week that the state has complied with Fogel's order by building a new death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, revising its training regimen and adopting new lethal injection regulations.
In his ruling, Fogel gave Brown the option of choosing a one-drug injection instead of a three-drug cocktail used by the state to put condemned inmates to death.
The judge said it appeared a one-drug lethal injection was less risky than the three-drug cocktail when it came to causing pain.
"The fact that nine single-drug executions have been carried out in Ohio and Washington without any apparent difficulty is undisputed and significant," Fogel wrote.
Brown can still pursue at least two legal avenues to stop his execution. He can ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Fogel's decision, and ask a Marin County Superior Court judge to halt the execution while his lawsuit challenging the new lethal injection regulations is pending.
Brown's attorney, John Grele, said the inmate's legal team will definitely petition the Marin County court for a delay. Beyond that, Grele said he was unsure what Brown's next legal move would be.
"We have been given an awfully short time to make such a critical decision," Grele said.
The judge said a 2008 Supreme Court ruling upholding Kentucky's lethal injection process made it more difficult for condemned inmates to delay their executions through the courts.
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