Lawsuit challenges Newsom’s unilateral end to state’s death penalty

Governor Gavin Newsom exceeded his constitutional authority and acted illegally with his 2019 decision to end the state’s death penalty, a new lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court on January 27 alleges.

“With a stroke of his pen, Governor Newsom eliminated nearly fifty years of established Legislative policy that provides for a punishment of death,” the lawsuit states. “As an ardent opponent of the death penalty, Newsom delved into the business of policy making with an intent to undermine the law and has purportedly changed legislative policy by executive fiat.”

In March 2019, Gov. Newsom issued Executive Order Number N-09-19, which declared an “executive moratorium on the death penalty … in the form of a reprieve for all people sentenced to death in California” and “immediately closed” the Death Chamber at San Quentin.

Those unilateral actions – not only flouted the will of California voters and the State Legislature, but also failed to comply with the proper procedures for issuing reprieves to prisoners, which are set by the state Constitution, the lawsuit contends.

Newsom Executive Order Violated State Constitution

At issue in the case: Whether the governor can grant a blanket reprieve by Executive Order, or rather must consider each inmate’s case separately. The state Constitution offers an unambiguous answer.

Under Article V, Section 8 of the State Constitution, a governor is obligated to “report to the Legislature each reprieve, pardon, and commutation granted, stating the pertinent facts and the reasons for granting it.”

Newsom, however, never issued “each” of those reports.

“The order had the effect of repealing the death penalty because it granted reprieves in excess of the Governor’s constitutional power and ignored statutory mandates,” the lawsuit states.

Newsom Failed to Uphold Law Due to Longstanding Animus to Death Penalty

Plaintiff James V. Lacy, publisher of California Political Review and author of the Politico bestseller “Taxifornia,” says that Newsom’s longstanding animus to the death penalty jeopardizes public safety and has caused confusion among county District Attorneys.

“Newsom violated the will of California voters who have repeatedly supported the death penalty in California,” he said.

Lacy adds that Newsom has denied justice for the families of crime victims.

“Newsom’s unilateral order insults every victim and family of a crime of murder in California,” Lacy said. “If Newsom wishes to commute the sentence of convicted killers, he should be forced to review every horrific case one by one and defend each reprieve to the public.” 

Dismantling Death Chamber at San Quentin

In addition to overstepping his constitutional authority with a blanket reprieve for all Death Row inmates, the lawsuit claims that Newsom acted illegally by dismantling the state’s Death Chamber at San Quentin.

To comply with the state Constitution, California must have a lethal injection protocol, which was repealed on March 18, 2019 by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“These regulations were necessary to fulfill the requirements of subdivision (a) of Penal Codes section 3604, requiring standards that inflict ‘an intravenous injection of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death,’” the lawsuit states.

After Newsom’s End to Death Penalty, Big Jump in Homicides

Since Newsom unilaterally ended the death penalty in 2019, the state has experienced a “deadly surge in gun violence,” gang-related attacks and homicides.

At the beginning of December, Oakland reached the grim 100 homicide milestone, bringing the 2020 homicide rate to the highest level in 8 years. Law enforcement leaders say that Oakland’s 47 percent increase in the homicide rate from 2019 to 2020 has been ignored by politicians.

“How about paying some attention and responding to the serious levels of violent crime in our community?” Oakland Police Officers’ Association president Barry Donelan told NBC Bay Area. “And, supporting a crime plan to address the violence.”

In Los Angeles, murders rose 25 percent in 2020 – with shootings up 32 percent. No longer facing a potential capital punishment, criminals are making “calculated” decisions.

“They (criminals) take calculated risks to act and go in public armed.,” Capt. Paul Vernon, who heads the LAPD’s Compstat division, told ABC 7 Eyewitness News.

The violence shows no signs of abating. The Los Angeles Times reports that preliminary crime data shows a 136 percent increase in homicides in Los Angeles and a 260 percent increase in shootings in Los Angeles in the first two weeks of 2021.

Even Democrat Lawmakers Criticize Newsom’s Autocratic Power Grab

The lawsuit over Newsom’s public safety power grab comes amid growing criticism from fellow Democrats over his brazen and autocratic actions on public health. Numerous Democrat state lawmakers have publicly chastised the Governor for his unilateral decision to lift the statewide stay-at-home order.

“If you think state legislators were blindsided by, and confused about, the shifting & confusing public health directives, you’d be correct,” tweeted Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale. “If you think we have been quiet about it in Sacramento, you’d be wrong.”

Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, tweeted “*sigh* Where to begin…”

“Extremely frustrating & disappointing that we keep learning about COVID policy changes by press release,” tweeted Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park. “We need collaboration and a full briefing before going public with the changes. We can’t answer our community’s questions when we are not part of the process.”

Comments

  1. The Socialist/Communist Democrat Party is intent on trying to overthrow our Republic with Separation of Powers for a Parliament government.

    It is intentional and intended to allow emotional government over that of reason and civility.

    Biden – presidential orders ignoring House and Senate (ala Obama)
    Slick Newsom – the same.

  2. CHERYL FEOLA says

    I am fed up with the way California has been run by the Democrats. We are paying such hight taxes, property tax, income tax and gasoline tax. Plus all the taxes and fees that we California’s have to pay.
    A few that comes to my mind: utility bills (that’s cell, land line), and cable.
    The homeless is OUT OF CONTROL NOW , COVID-19 is the Democrat fun game to play on us citizens!! Our kids missing out on education, socialization, (their graduation, their prom, all of the end of their senior fun and activities. NO WEDDING CELEBRATIONS, NO FUNERALS, NO FAMILY GATHERINGS AND CELEBRATIONS. WE CANNOT GO INTO THE HOSPITAL WHEN WE TAKE OUR LOVE ONES!! OUR RESTAURANT BUSINESS G O N E, OUR HAIR AND NAIL SALONS G O N E. BUT NEWSON AND PELOSI CAN GO TO THEIR HAIR SALONS, THEIR RESTAURANTS AND WITH N O MASKS. OUR KIDS ARE NOT DOING WELL OUR ELDERLY PARENTS ARE NOT DOING WELL. NO FAMILY CONNECTIONS! IT IS A VERY DEPRESSING, FRUSTRATING TIME FOR THE VERY HARD WORKING PEOPLE! Lets make Pelosi, Newsom, Schumer, and all of the Democrats STAY HOME NO FAMILY GATHERINGS AND NO INCOME!!!!

  3. The communist democrats view themselves as supreme dictators. You will comply and you will submit.

  4. showandtell says
  5. Beverley Bell says

    I am so tired of listening to senators & congress folks, agencies about all they are going to do & not a darn good thing gets done to stop the nonsense.
    sick of News Media continually stating Joe Biden is President when that filthy rat swamp Obama is running the show. What kind of a Government is this. How can a government allow someone like Biden to be President when he obviously is stuck between the 6th & 7th floor. How did he manage to get dragged out of the basement. Come on America get it together. Obama thinks he is so smart BUT they are coming to get the batch of them. They hound the heck out of us asking for money . Go get it somewhere else & leave me alone.

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