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Governor Issues Moratorium on California Death Penalty

On March 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order No. N-09-19 (Mar. 13, 2019), stating that an “executive moratorium on the death penalty shall be instituted in the form of a reprieve for all persons sentenced to death in California.” The moratorium “does not provide for the release of any person from prison or otherwise alter any current conviction or sentence.” In addition, the executive order repeals the state’s lethal injection protocal and orders that the death chamber at San Quentin be immediately closed.
The moratorium leaves unresolved a number of questions:
  • Will this affect the extraditions of death row inmates of other states or of California death row inmates facing extradition to a death penalty jursidiction?
  • What effect will this have on charging decisions around the state? It seems clear that the death penalty is not off the table for current prosecutions, but will this have any impact going forward?
  • Will this affect the granting of Pen C §987 funding?
  • How does this impact appellate practitioners who represent death row clients? Will there be any impact on state deadlines they must meet?
  • How will this affect cooperation between state and federal authorities? Will California adopt rules that limit cooperation for federal death penalty prosecutions?
For further discussion of death penalty cases, see CEB's California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice, chapter 54.