SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A long-running challenge to California’s death penalty procedures that has resulted in executions being put on hold for five years has been assigned to a new federal judge in San Francisco.

The reassignment to U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg was announced Thursday morning by the Northern California federal court’s executive committee.

The 2006 lawsuit by several death row inmates was handled by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose for five years, but Fogel has taken a long-term leave from the court to head the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit claims the state’s three-drug lethal injection procedure could cause extreme pain, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

A 2006 ruling by Fogel, who found that the procedure then in effect had numerous flaws, has resulted in a moratorium in executions at San Quentin State Prison.

State corrections officials have now revised the procedure and the revamped protocol is expected to undergo court scrutiny within the next few months.

There are more than 700 inmates on the state’s death row, with cases in various stages of appeal.

Seeborg, who formerly worked as a federal prosecutor in San Jose, as a private lawyer and as a federal magistrate, was appointed as a trial judge by President Obama in 2009. His courtroom is in the San Francisco branch of the federal court.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (17)
  1. M Glenn says:

    (Here we go again, people!) Death row inmates are afraid that lethal injection is ‘going to hurt’?! If they want to know what pain is like all they have to do is look, think and REMEMBER WHAT THEIR VICTIMS EXPERIENCED AT THEIR (THE CRIMINALS’) HANDS! They have neither rhyme, reason nor business whining about the death penalty and the world has gotten FAR TOO LAX with the punishment for ‘deliberate homicide’ crimes. Does anybody think that Sharon Tate (for one) didn’t feel pain when her throat was slash and her baby torn from her womb?

  2. M Glenn says:

    (Follow-up) I’m sure there is a Constitutional BAN on MURDER, too!

  3. sal says:

    California should allow death penalty because we have lots of murders back on the streets. The reason I am saying this is because California has one of the worse judicial system in the US because criminals are getting off easy with our broken down parole system. Plus keeping a convicted murders in prison for a lifetime is over costing tax payers. We should ask these murders if their victim felt any pain when they were being killed ?

  4. LIsa says:

    The states with the death penalty have the HIGHEST murder rates nationally. It is not a deterrent and has never stopped a murder. We are the only industrialized nation that still executes. It is time for the death penalty to go!

  5. joubaur says:

    Who cares if they’re in pain as they die?
    They SHOULD be in pain as they die!

  6. MrH says:

    This is ridiculous. Go back to the guillotine, swift, painless and cheap.
    Lisa – The states with the highest number of immigrants also have the highest murder rate. In statistics, you can’t just take two numbers and say they’re equal without considering other mitigating factors.

  7. gdadl says:

    We have an utterly corrupt Governor Brown, and an utterly corrupt Lt Governor Newsom, an an utterly corrupt Attorney General … and an utterly corrupt Liberal lead State Legislature and the dumbest voter in all of the 50 states …. so do we really ever believe that the VICTUMs will get Justice !!!!!

  8. Codi Preston D. says:

    The death penalty has got to go. There are many reasons why I am against
    the death penalty, and yes if someone killed my mom, I would be willing to
    settle for a life sentence, and one of the biggest reasons is that a murderer
    was once a child, and he has a mom and dad. I see no point in making someone
    else innocent (the murderer’s parents) suffer also. So we add one more
    grieving family? Just because that murderer is worthless, doesn’t mean that he
    or she doesn’t have a family that still loves him/her. And they will grieve too,
    so how does that solve things? Pro death penalty people: if you had a child
    and he grew up and killed someone, would you then actually be for the
    death penalty?? Nope, didn’t think so.

    Besides, the death penalty is a joke in California. No one ever gets executed
    here. Do you know how much money we have spent on death row inmates?
    We have spent tens of billions of dollars helping criminals get fancy
    lawyers to appeal their death penalty conviction. This goes on in court for
    20-30 years until that inmate is, if ever, executed. By then, most of the time
    the victim’s families are even dead.

    It really makes me angry that we spend billions of dollars on these appeals
    for these criminals. If we just got rid of the death penalty and sent them
    to life without parole (and meant it), then we could save so much money
    it would be incredible. Death penalty cases cost much more to appeal, if
    they have life without parole they won’t appeal like that, at least. And then we could spend it on the broken down educational system. Isn’t preventing crime
    in the future important. Are you more concerned about future criminals
    than living in the NOW, with high school students and elementary school
    students in the present?? Did you know there is more money spent on the
    Department of Corrections than on the whole state university system ???
    Or the whole educational system Kindergarten through 12th grade??? Maybe if we actually put the money where it should go to – high schools and elementary schools and nursery schools, maybe if we taught our children right and wrong in school, maybe they wouldn’t end up in state prison 25 years later. Has that even occurred to anyone??


    1. Biteme says:

      You’re an idiot! They do the crime, they pay the consequences. They just need to speed up the process of executing these low life pieces of garbage. If they sped it up, instead of letting them sit on death row for 20+ plus years, they would save billions of dollars. Let me be governor and guaranteed the longest anyone would be allowed to stay alive on death row would be a maximum of 2 years. If I had my way, they’d be executed with a single bullet to the head the same day they receive their sentence. People like you that are against the death penalty need to be put on death row for being so stupid.

      1. Codi Preston says:

        Because of people like you, I will always be like a 5 year old.

        I am not an idiot. If the government spent money where it SHOULD go – towards
        education, I would not be like a 5 year old now, you …..

        it’s okay to spend Billions on death row inmates who aren’t going to be
        executed anyway, but spend hardly anything on autistic people, right??
        Well, then you’re just going to have to live with me and my 5 year old ness.

        And maybe YOU should be on death row yourself, you judgemental



      2. Codi Preston says:

        Unlike YOU, I care about children. I might have Autism, but at least, I work
        with children. I volunteer at one of my local libraries at Preschooler
        Storytime. I do my best with what I have. I am like a 5 year old because
        I can help it. I have advocated for children all around, and I’ve tried to help
        them and to build their education and to enjoy music and other things.
        I entertain these preschoolers. I am raising awareness of children in
        orphanges with cerebral palsy and down syndrome in the Ukraine, so
        they won’t get sent to mental institutions and die there. What the heck
        have YOU done?? You’re probably the type of person that would be
        totally for sending 12 year olds that kill people to life imprisonment sentences
        so they can get raped by Bubba, you sick person. And that’s called
        caring about children???!! if that is, then I need to sell you a bridge in
        Brooklyn for $10, if you expect me to believe that.

  9. grammar nazis says:

    Stop blocking what I write, grammer nazis!! Just because i misspell words??!!

  10. darwilk says:

    Inmates gave up ALL their rights as soon as they committed a crime. What about the pain and suffering their victims went through? THAT’S cruel and unusual punishment. For all you that are against the death penalty, you should be on death row as well for being so stupid.

    1. Codi Preston D. says:

      You’re probably just a stupid troll trying to get a rise out of people. It’s
      easy to hide behind your keyboard under a name that isn’t even
      a name. Get your jollies by going to another bulletin board and
      torturing people there, TROLL.

      People who are against the death penalty should be on death row, huh?
      well, then one of every three Californians (or more) would be on death
      row. Stupid judgemental prick.

  11. Ken Brooks says:

    I believe that any one sitting on death row has won the proverbial due process lottery. Countless numbers of innocent and potentially criminal individuals are gunned down by the police in the United States on the most specious of grounds. It is a travesty that the Federal Court system will think nothign of challenging a state legislature’s act, but will turn a blind eye to the acts of executive agencies of the several state, e.g., the police forces. The concept of qualified immunity granted to police officers throughout the United States had placed the entire country under lock down where a police officer often with impunity may gun down innocence civilians.

  12. Codi says:

    Let me tell you something…

    I have autism. I am 35 and I can’t even hold down a job. But let me tell you, I never got any different education, or autism therapy that a lot of children with my problems get now. If the state had put more money in education, maybe I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now. I have known people with autism that got early intervention (and yes, early intervention is SOOO very important with autism), and they are sort of like teens even though they are in their 20s. I
    never got anything to help me in school for my problem. I have a degree in Geography from a university, but I can’t do anything. I can’t even cook for myself. I don’t drive a car. I am like a 5 year old in many ways. I do volunteer work at a library with children doing Preschool Storytime, and yes, the preschoolers love me and enjoy having me getting them excited because I sing songs with them and my children’s librarian friend. But, otherwise, what kind of shows do I like??? I like Teletubbies, Wimzie’s House, Sesame Street, Barney, Care Bears, Little Bear. My understanding in some areas is like a little boy, and I know 5 year olds who understand about facial cues better than I do. Now, if the money went to education instead of these criminals when it is too late, do you think I would be telling you this??

    I have become a perpetual 5 year old instead. But I guess you don’t care. Obviously, that is the case, because you’d rather have the money go towards the criminals fighting their death penalty convictions when it’s too late to help
    them than to children in the educational system or people with my problems
    that are still in school.

  13. joubaur says:

    The constitution guarantees all citizens a right to a speedy trial, so support a VICTIMS right to a speedy trial.
    Criminals should NOT be allowed to postpone trials for an inordinate amount of time, simply delaying their punishment, nor should they be allowed to appeal for years on end.
    Deal with it and get it over with!
    Justice delayed is justice denied!