Two weeks after Gov. Newsom issued an Executive Order imposing a moratorium, two California Supreme Court justices issued their own critique of the death penalty system, and of Proposition 66, the initiative that promised to speed up executions that was passed by a slim margin in 2016.
“California’s death penalty is an expensive and dysfunctional system that does not deliver justice or closure in a timely manner, if at all,” Justice Goodwin H. Liu wrote in a concurring opinion in the death penalty case, People v Potts. Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar concurred.
Pointing out that the Executive Order described the state’s death penalty system as “wasteful” and “protracted” and that California has spent $5 billion to execute 13 people since 1978, Liu wrote, “In this respect, the Executive Order echoes the assessment of numerous leaders of the justice system over many years.”
He noted, “The promise of justice in our death penalty system is a promise that California has been unable to keep.”
And, he stressed that Prop 66 was definitely not the vehicle to bring justice to the system. It “did not enact or put to the voters the key reforms that leading authorities consider fundamental to a workable death penalty system.” Simply put, it “promised more than the system can deliver.”
Liu concluded by saying, “The judiciary will continue to do its duty under the law, leaving it to the voters and our elected representatives to decide whether California should double down on the current system or chart a new course.”
The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it?