The planned September execution of Albert Greenwood Brown Jr. at San Quentin has been cancelled, probably until next year, as California continues to struggle with its method for executions.
The action by the state followed challenges to the procedure by United States District Judge Jeremy Fogel.
California’s hurried attempt to execute Brown was derailed by Fogel, who ruled that the state must renew its arguments concerning the constitutionality of the planned procedure.
On Hold Since 2006
Fogel, of San Jose, said he needed time to examine whether the new death chamber and execution procedures remedied the flaws he outlined in his 2006 ruling that put California executions on hold.
At the forefront of the debate is concern about the execution injection cocktail, principally the first drug used in the three-drug sequence, sodium thiopental. San Quentin’s limited supply had an expiration date of Friday. Judge Fogel ruled against the state’s plan to get under the wire with a Wednesday or Thursday execution. The drug is scarce and its manufacturer says no new supplies will be available until next year.
In January, 1982, Brown, now 56, was convicted in Riverside County and given the death penalty for the 1980 rape and murder of Susan Jordan, 15.
Governor Arnold Schwarze-negger condemned the ruling. “It is absurd that our legal system continues to prevent the state from carrying out the will of the people,” he said. He had earlier denied Brown’s request for clemency.
“The appeals process in California has proven to be nothing more than a never-ending war of attrition against justice and the rights of victims and their families,” said Karen Jordan Brown, the victim’s sister. “The distress that this process has brought on the Jordan family is profound and unfathomable but has only tempered our convictions in favor of capital punishment.”