SACRAMENTO (KCBS/AP) – State Attorney General Kamala Harris is appealing a ruling last month that declared California’s enforcement of the death penalty unconstitutional.

Harris announced Thursday that she will ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

“I am appealing the court’s decision because it is not supported by the law and it undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants. This flawed ruling requires appellate review,” Harris said in a statement.

Harris personally opposes the death penalty, but said she promised voters she would enforce it.

It was on July 16 when Judge Carney issued his ruling on the death penalty, writing that lengthy and unpredictable delays have resulted “in an arbitrary and unfair capital punishment system.” Since the current death penalty system was adopted 35 years ago, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed.

“Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State,” wrote Carney in his decision. “As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary.”

No executions have been carried out in the state since 2006 after another federal judge ordered an overhaul of the state’s lethal injection procedures.

In addition, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is drafting new lethal injection regulations. No executions can occur until the new rules are adopted.


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