Lawsuit Challenges San Diego’s Vote on Death Penalty

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San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was among those in support of Propostion 66. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Several prominent San Diego officials and organizations threw their support behind it, and it was approved by local voters last month, but the ballot initiative to speed up death penalty appeals was put on hold Tuesday by the California Supreme Court.

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According to the Associated Press, the high court issued a one-page decision staying the “implementation of all provisions of Proposition 66” and set a timeline for filing briefs that the court will consider before deciding to hold a hearing on a challenge to the proposition.

Among those in support of Prop. 66 were San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, as well as several San Diego law enforcement associations. According to the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters, 53.96 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of the proposition while 46.04 percent rejected it.

Proposition 66 was crafted to expedite death penalty appeals, so more convicted murderers sentenced to die would actually do so.

The last inmate to be executed in California was Clarence Ray Allen on Jan. 17, 2016.

According to the AP report, 750 inmates currently sit on California’s Death Row.

Former Attorney General John Van de Kamp and Ron Briggs, whose father wrote the ballot measure that expanded California’s death penalty in 1978, filed the petition challenging the proposition, the AP reported.

They argue the proposition will cost more money and limit the ability to mount proper appeals, according to the AP report.

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“The challenge is based on four legal arguments, including that it violates the jurisdiction of courts by having Superior Court judges handle secondary appeals over issues such as newly discovered evidence, incompetent counsel or misconduct by jurors or prosecutors, said attorney Christina Von der Ahe Rayburn, who filed the case,” the AP reported.

While California voters narrowly approved Prop. 66 in November, they rejected another death penalty measure, Prop. 62, which would have repealed the death penalty.

In San Diego County, Prop. 62 was rejected by 54.94 percent of voters, while 45.06 were in favor, according to the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters.

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