Federal Court Reverses California Death Penalty Scheme

Federal Court Reverses California Death Penalty Scheme .

On April 7, 1995, Ernest Dewayne Jones was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.  Although Mr. Jones wanted to appeal, it took the California legal system nearly 4 years to appoint an attorney for him.  On March 17, 2003, – nearly EIGHT YEARS later – the California Supreme Court affirmed his conviction.  It took an additional 7 years of appeals and litigation for Mr. Jones to be able to file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in a California federal district court.

On July 16, 2014, California District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney had harsh words for the death penalty system when it decided Jones v. Chappell. In the opinion granting Mr. Jones’ petition and reversing the imposed death sentence, Judge Carney spoke very harshly of the uncertainty of the California death penalty system, concluding that the arbitrary way the death penalty is

  • imposed,
  • appealed, and,
  • sometimes reversed,

combined with the delayed method used for carrying out the death sentence does not act as a deterrent against crime. Based on these factors, the judge concluded that the death penalty imposed in Mr. Jones’ case is unconstitutional.

Because Mr. Jones’ case is very typical of defendants sentenced to death, one would expect that the death penalty will be found unconstitutional in more federal appeals in the future.

Ironically, the main reasoning for the court is that justice delayed is justice denied. That the death penalty scheme is  unconstitutional for the defendant, and unfair to the families of the victim, and the juries and attorneys who work hard at the trial level.

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime, arrested, or contacted by police, contact San Jose criminal defense attorney Maureen Baldwin at (408) 279-4450 to learn your options today!