Lethal injection evidentiary hearing
to be held May 2, 3
February 22, 2006
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
SAN JOSE (BCN) - In the wake of Tuesday's postponement
of the scheduled execution of condemned murderer Michael Morales,
the next step in the dispute over the state's execution procedures
is an evidentiary hearing on May 2 and 3 before U.S. District
Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose.
Fogel in a series of orders issued in a lawsuit filed by Morales'
attorneys gave state officials the choice of either going ahead
with the evidentiary hearing in May or modifying execution procedures.
On Tuesday, corrections officials decided to postpone the execution
because they were unable to find trained anesthesiologists or
other medically trained personnel to assist with the execution.
That decision meant that Fogel will proceed with the evidentiary
hearing in May.
The judge's orders were issued in connection with a lawsuit in
which Morales' attorneys say there is a risk the state's procedures
could cause extreme pain in violation of the constitutional ban
on cruel and unusual punishment.
Fogel said in a Feb. 14 ruling that the issue is quite narrow:
"whether or not there is a reasonable possibility" that
Morales will be conscious when given the allegedly painful second
and third drugs in a sequence and "if so, how the risk of
such an occurrence may be avoided.''
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for California Attorney General
Bill Lockyer, said it could take several months for Fogel's eventual
ruling and any appeals to be resolved.
Until then, executions in California will be on hold.
Barankin said, "It's our hope the courts will rule expeditiously."
Barankin said that Fogel and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
and the U.S. Supreme Court are all familiar with the issues because
of the numerous appeals filed during the last week.
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