Nearly 30 years ago, condemned inmate Albert Greenwood Brown Jr. was convicted by a Riverside County judge of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl and was ultimately sentenced to death.
Now, after exhausting his appeals, Brown may be the first inmate to be executed in the state in almost five years.
On Aug. 30, a judge scheduled Brown to be executed on Sept. 29 at San Quentin State Prison. But a multitude of legal complications that have put executions on hold in the state since February 2006 may mean that Brown’s execution will be postponed.
At the fulcrum of these complications are the state’s lethal-injection procedures, which were challenged by two condemned inmates in 2006 as being unconstitutional.
San Quentin’s last execution was in January 2006. Until then, there had been an execution at the prison every one to three years since 1992.
Executions ended when condemned inmates Michael Morales and Mitchell Sims filed a complaint that the state’s lethal-injection protocol was not in compliance with certain state requirements.
The lawsuit claimed that the protocol was not in compliance with state regulations and had not been approved by the oversight agency called the Office of Administrative Law, which is responsible for checking compliance with administrative procedures.
A Marin County Superior Court judge in November 2007 agreed that the state’s protocols were not in compliance with the state’s regulations and banned all executions barring updates to the state’s lethal-injection procedures.
The Office of Administrative Law finally approved the protocol for lethal-injection executions on July 30. The new protocol officially took effect on Aug. 29 — one day before Brown’s execution date was set.
But on Aug. 31, after Morales and Sims filed another complaint claiming that the approved protocol still did not adhere to state-required standards, a Marin County judge issued an order upholding the ban on executions.
The attorney general’s office is appealing that decision, and filed a petition on Sept. 1 that claimed the judge did not have the authority to uphold the ban as the state fulfilled the requirements of the 2007 order.
On the same day, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) sent out a media release saying that Brown’s scheduled execution would move forward.
Since that time, Brown’s lawyers have filed a clemency petition. The state’s response to the petition was due by Sept. 15, and Brown’s reply is due by Sept. 22, according to Brown’s defense lawyer, Jan Norman.
Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the CDCR, said that until further action is taken, the state is required to proceed as if the execution will move forward as scheduled.
Contact Anna McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org.