California Attorney General Kamala Harris to appeal court ruling against death penalty

California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks onstage at the Public Counsel's William O. Douglas Award Dinner on March 18, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks onstage at the Public Counsel's William O. Douglas Award Dinner on March 18, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Thursday that she intends to appeal a federal judge's ruling that lengthy delays have rendered the state's death penalty enforcement unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled in July that decades-long delays in executions have created a system where "very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State." Such a system violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment, he said.

Harris called the ruling "flawed" in a brief written statement.

"I am appealing the court's decision because it is not supported by the law, and it undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants," Harris said in the statement. "This flawed ruling requires appellate review."

Carney's ruling was in response to a petition filed by Ernest Dewayne Jones, a California man sentenced to death in 1994 for raping and murdering his girlfriend's mother. Carney noted at the time that only 13 of the more than 900 people sentenced to death in the state since the death penalty was adopted 35 years ago have been executed.

Harris' appeal will be filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Los Angeles Times reports.  

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