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Gov. delays death-row inmate's execution

September 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has delayed the state's first scheduled execution since 2006 Monday. The governor issued the delay while he considers clemency. Gov. Schwarzenegger said the delay will give appeals courts time to weigh in on Albert Greenwood Brown's case. This will also give the governor time to consider a clemency request.

Later Monday, a federal appeals court ordered a trial judge to reconsider his ruling that paved the way for California's first execution in nearly five years.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said late Monday that U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel erred when he offered death row inmate Brown the choice of being put to death with a one-drug lethal injection or a three-drug cocktail.

The appeals court says the decision placed "an undue burden" on Brown and that such a choice is "not consistent with California law."

It left it for Fogel to schedule a new hearing, though time is of the essence.

Brown's execution is scheduled for Thursday, while the state's stock of one of the three drugs reaches its expiration date on Friday and it can't be replaced until next year.

Brown's execution was set for Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. He was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison. His execution has been rescheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday.

Brown was sentenced to death for abducting, raping and killing 15-year-old Susan Jordan of Riverside in 1980.

In a Marin County courtroom earlier Monday, Brown's attorneys asked a judge to stop his execution until his lawsuit regarding the state's new lethal injection methods is resolved.

Brown and another condemned inmate had sued the state over its new lethal injection regulations, saying the procedures were improperly adopted.

The state's lethal-injection procedures were revised after a federal judge halted the death penalty in California amid concerns that it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

After an hour-long hearing Monday, Marin County Superior Court Judge Verna Adams said she would not halt the execution while the lawsuit is pending.

In making her ruling Monday, Adams said Brown cannot prove that he will suffer pain under the current regulations.

A federal judge came to the same conclusion last week. But lawyers for the two inmates challenging the new regulations say they will appeal.

"The stakes are too high and there are too many uncertainties to continue. If the state of California is going to carry out an execution, it must follow the law," said Sara Eisenberg, a lawyer for Brown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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