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Calif. makes new attempt to restart executions

Associated Press Published: April 27, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered prison officials to explore using a single drug for lethal injections instead of three, in the state's latest attempt to restart long-stalled executions in California.

The governor's order was disclosed in an appeal of a Marin County judge's decision to toss out California's newly developed lethal injection regulations.

The new procedures called for prisoners to be put to death through the use of sodium thiopental, which may no longer be available in the United States, and two other drugs.

A federal judge in March barred the use of sodium thiopental purchased outside the country. There is no domestic maker of the product, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been ordered to turn over its foreign-bought drug to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA is considering whether to appeal the judge's order.

Lawyers for the state Department of Justice said Thursday they would reconsider the appeal if it becomes certain that sodium thiopental can no longer be used in California executions.

Marin County Judge Faye D'Opal in December invalidated the regulations because she said the state failed to explain why it chose the three-drug mixture over the one-drug method, which may have a lower risk of causing undo suffering to the inmate. The judge noted that the state's own expert said the one-drug method was superior.

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