Debra J. Saunders

According to The Associated Press, Cherney even complained that California's inability to quickly carry out executions has forced Davis "to endure the uncertainty and ever-present tension on death row for such an extended time constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."

Shameless. "I was expecting some kind of brilliant argumentation," Klaas told me afterward. After all, the five-year process to appoint an attorney is supposed to limit the pool to highly qualified specialists. Instead, Klaas watched "some guy with a ponytail making pretty weak arguments."

In Cherney's defense, weak arguments were all he had. How much has this exercise cost taxpayers? No one knows. That information is restricted. Ron Matthias, the supervising deputy attorney general handling the case, told me, "The frustration that you are describing is shared widely."

Here's the worst part: If Davis said tomorrow that he wanted "the big jab," the state could not comply. In 2006, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel suspended all California lethal injections. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lethal injection. Didn't matter, because a Marin County judge had ruled that there must be public comment on the new Fogel-inspired lethal injection protocol before it is adopted.

When will the public comment occur? "I don't know," a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson answered.

It's funny how the folks who want to parole criminals to pare the state budget never look at the high cost of glacial appeals. Klaas believes that the decades-long delays are the result of "a silent protest against the death penalty by the defense bar, abolitionists and other death-row apologists." If there ever is an innocent person on death row, he'll die before the courts find out.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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