California Death Penalty Development:
Judge Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California issued a Memorandum of Intended Decision this afternoon concluding that the current implementation of the death penalty in California is unconstitutional. According to Judge Fogel, the Constitution regulates the procedures used to carry out an execution via lethal injection, including such matters as the lighting, design, and crowdedness of the room in which the execution occurs; the recordkeeping procedures used during executions; the procedures for screening of members of the execution team; and the training and oversight of the team. California's current practices are inadequate under this standard, Judge Fogel indicated, as they create an undue risk of an Eighth Amendment violation during an execution. As this only a "Memorandum of Intended Decision," not a final decision itself, Judge Fogel gave the state of California 30 days to respond. The memorandum specifically asks the state to inform the Court whether the state plans to change its procedures in light of the memorandum.

  This issue presumably is headed for the Supreme Court eventually, and it looks like Judge Fogel's case may be the one that gets there with the most complete record. Stay tuned. Hat tip: Howard.