Debra J. Saunders

 If that was the goal, then it worked. The state was forced to postpone an execution ordered for a murder committed 25 years ago and a death sentence issued 23 years ago. At San Quentin prison, justice delayed is the only justice -- as Terri Winchell's family can attest.

 Fogel will hold hearings on the issue in May. Lance Lindsey of Death Penalty Focus, which opposes capital punishment, supported the Morales defense tactics. "It's not gamesmanship, honestly," Lindsey told me. "Defense lawyers fight like hell for their client" -- and they should fight to make sure that Morales gets the right amount of drugs needed.

 Lindsey also will be the first to tell you that he opposes everything about the death penalty. He sees it as uncivilized, and if the courts and doctors find a way to sabotage capital punishment, he'll be happy.

 His side might win. Clearly, the court has given up on common sense, as it strains for executions without suffering. You can't take the punishment out of capital punishment.

 Sorry, but this is an execution. While the state has sought to execute murderers without inflicting unnecessary pain, the idea is to take his life. Unpleasantness is part of the package.

 One essential: The guy who is being executed is not supposed to like it. I hope he doesn't suffer, but if he does, it shouldn't be for long. If judges don't understand that, this country is doomed. After all, if executions are guaranteed to be painless, why not apply that standard to prison sentences?

 It is a sure sign of a society's decline when the governing elite care more about how things are done than what they do. The death penalty is supposed to mean this -- that at the execution, there is a 100 percent chance the convicted killer dies. On Tuesday, the more salient issue was the .000000000001 chance that he might not feel good dying.

Debra J. Saunders

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