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Court rejects death penalty in California

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SAN FRANCISCO — In an indictment of California’s death penalty, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that decades-long delays and uncertainty about whether condemned inmates will ever be executed violate the constitution’s ban on cruel or unusual punishment.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, was unprecedented and likely to further inflame the debate over the state’s death penalty. Several prominent judges have excoriated California’s death penalty for its dysfunction, but Carney was the first to rule the delays amounted to a constitutional violation and left the system without any legitimate purpose.

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