Ninth Circuit Addresses Constitutionality of California Death Penalty

In Jones v. Davis, the Ninth Circuit is considering whether California’s death penalty scheme violates the Eighth Amendment because it is arbitrarily imposed and plagued by systemic delays.  In a hearing before a three-judge panel earlier this week, the Court had tough questions for the California Attorney General’s office, which is defending California’s death penalty and challenging the district court’s grant of habeas relief.  The AG’s argument focuses less on the systemic issues address by the Appellee and numerous amici, including the Innocence Project, and more on the specifics of habeas procedure.  The case is being closely watched as it may have implications well beyond California.