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Jones v. Davis Litigation
Posted 7/16/2014. Updated 11/12/2015.
On July 16, 2014, United States District Court Judge Cormac Carney issued an order in the case of Ernest Dewayne Jones, invalidating California's death penalty process and vacating Mr. Jones's death sentence. Citing the conclusions of the former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Ronald M. George and the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice that California's death penalty system is dysfunctional, Judge Carney determined that application of California's death penalty system is arbitrary, serves no penological purpose, and violates the Constitution. The order, entitled Order Declaring California's Death Penalty System Unconstitutional and Vacating Petitioner's Death Sentence, is in Jones v. Chappell, Case No. CV 09-02158-CJC.
The Attorney General appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Jones v. Davis, Case No. 14-56373. On November 12, 2015, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in Jones, reversing the district court's order.
The Habeas Corpus Resource Center, counsel for Mr. Jones, issued this statement:
"We are disappointed in the Ninth Circuit's decision, issued today, in Jones v. Davis, No. 14-56373, and are currently studying the opinion to determine our next steps. Today's decision turned on a preliminary procedural question and not on the merits of the claim that California's death penalty system is unconstitutional. Nothing in today's ruling undermines the overwhelming evidence that California has a dysfunctional death penalty system that is broken beyond repair. Indeed, the opinion itself acknowledged that ‘[m]any agree . . . that California's capital punishment system is dysfunctional and that the delay between sentencing and execution in California is extraordinary.' California inmates will continue to challenge the state's failed and unconstitutional death penalty system. In addition, Mr. Jones will continue to pursue the other challenges to the fairness of his trial and penalty that are still pending in the district court."
Federal Court Decisions
- Order Declaring California's Death Penalty System Unconstitutional and Vacating Petitioner's Death Sentence, filed July 16, 2014
- Opinion, filed November 12, 2015
Parties' Appellate Briefs
- State's Opening Brief and Excerpts of Record, filed December 1, 2014
- Petitioner-Appellee's Answering Brief, filed February 27, 2015
- Petitioner-Appellee's Supplemental Excerpts of Record, filed February 27, 2015
- Appellant's Reply Brief, filed April 13, 2015
- Petitioner-Appellee's Supplemental Brief, filed August 24, 2015
- Appellant's Supplemental Brief Regarding Andrews v. Davis, filed August 24, 2015
Amicus Curiae Briefs
- Brief of Amicus Curiae of Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Support of Appellant and Supporting Reversal, filed December 8, 2014
- Brief of Amici Curiae California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program in Support of Petitioner-Appellee and Supporting Affirmance, filed March 5, 2015
- Brief of Amici Curiae Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation and California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty in Support of Appellee, filed March 6, 2015
- Loyola Law School's Alarcón Advocacy Center and Project for the Innocent Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner, filed March 6, 2015
- Amicus-Curiae Brief of Correctional Lieutenant Marshall Thompson, Retired, in Support of Affirmance, filed March 6, 2015
- Brief of Amicus Curiae Death Penalty Focus in Support Of Petitioner-Appellee and Supporting Affirmance, filed March 6, 2015
- Brief of Current and Former State Legislators Loni Hancock, Mark Leno, and Nancy Skinner as Amici Curiae in Support of Ernest Dewayne Jones, filed March 6, 2015
- Brief of Amici Curiae Empirical Scholars Concerning Deterrence and the Death Penalty in Support of Petitioner/Appellee, filed March 6, 2015
- Brief of Habeas Corpus Scholars and Professors as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioner-Appellee Ernest Dewayne Jones, filed March 20, 2015
- Brief for the Innocence Project, Inc. as Amicus Curiae in Support of Ernest Dewayne Jones, Petitioner-Appellee, filed April 22, 2015