Jones v. Davis Litigation

Last 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 the following 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."

The parties’ and amici curiae’s briefs may be viewed by clicking on the following links:

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