Appellate lawyer Bob Bacon writes at the Death Penalty Focus blog about the Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Anderson (1972) 6 Cal.3d 628, which is 50 years old today (see here), and about California capital punishment in general since its reinstatement by voter initiative in response to Anderson. Death Penalty Focus is an organization “committed to the abolition of the death penalty through public education, grassroots and political organizing, media outreach, and domestic and international coalition building.”

Since the death penalty was revived, the blog says, the California Supreme Court “has upheld the vast majority of the death sentences it has considered individually, and it has turned away several opportunities to confront the death penalty more generally.”

The blog singles out (1) last year’s opinion in People v. McDaniel (2021) 12 Cal.5th 97 (see here) for rejecting “an argument that the same rule of unanimity and proof beyond a reasonable doubt that juries use to decide whether a defendant is guilty should also apply to the decision whether he lives or dies,” (2) the court’s “extraordinary” “tolerance for racial discrimination in selecting jurors,” and (3) the court’s “refus[al] to give full consideration to powerful evidence that California’s categories of death-eligible murders are too broad and equally strong evidence that, among those sentenced to death, it is completely arbitrary and random which ones live and which ones die.”

[Update: Malcolm Maclachlan writes in the Daily Journal, “50 years after state high court ruling, death penalty stands but isn’t carried out.”]

[Update: John Myers wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The death penalty debate turns 50.”]