California Supreme Court Justices Condem Death Penalty System

Two of the California Supreme Court justices is characterizing the state's death penalty system as dysfunctional, expensive, and he claims it does not deliver justice in a timely way.

Associate Justice Goodwin Liu made her comments in what is considered an unusual opinion issued Thursday after the court unanimously ruled that the sentence of death for Thomas Potts will remain in affect. Potts was convicted of killing an elderly couple in 1997.

Despite the ruling, Liu wrote a separate opinion to express his concerns about the death penalty, and Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar joined him in the opinion.

Liu clamed that the 2016 ballot measure approved by voters to speed up executions will not work unless more money is put into the death penalty system in California.

Liu's public condemnation of the death penalty comes just two weeks after Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom placed a moratorium on executions in the state. There has not been an execution in California since 2006. On January 17th of that year, California executed Clarence Ray Allen, who was 76 years old, legally blind, diabetic, and often confined to a wheelchair.

On Thursday Newsom praised the two justices for their opinion.

"I commend Associate Justices Liu and Cuéllar for this pronouncement. As Justice Liu clearly articulated in his opinion, California’s death penalty system is 'expensive and dysfunctional.' And it violates foundational principles -- like equal justice before the law and the timely administration of justice -- upon which our entire legal system is built."

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