A California appeals court ruled Thursday that state corrections officials made several errors when adopting new lethal injection rules.
The court's opinion said officials failed to explain why it was switching from a three-drug injection method to a single drug. State law required that explanation.
California has not executed an inmate since 2006, when a federal judge halted the practice, finding that the three-drug mixture amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The state was then ordered to redo its capital punishment system.
Since then, California has built a new death chamber at San Quentin State Prison and trained a new team to carry out executions. There are currently 733 inmates on death row in California.
In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered prison officials to explore using a single drug, as some other states do. This would reduce the risk of suffering by condemned inmates. However, the appeals court found that in adopting those rules, corrections officials did not give the public the level of information that is required in adopting new regulations.
Presiding Judge J. Anthony Kline wrote said the public was not fully informed through the new rulemaking process. However, the agency argued that it responded to more than 29,000 public comments and held a lengthy public hearing on the matter, during which 102 people provided comments as proof that it complied with state law in making the new regulation.
Kline did not agree, saying those 102 people at the hearing were not made aware, or timely made aware, of much of the information surrounding the three-drug protocol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.