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Raynard Paul Cummings - California Death Row
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Thread: Raynard Paul Cummings - California Death Row

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    Raynard Paul Cummings - California Death Row




    Facts of the Crime:

    Sentenced to death in Los Angeles County on September 20, 1985 in the June 2, 1983 murder of Los Angeles police Officer Paul Verna in Lake View Terrace.

    Co-defendant Kenneth Earl Gay is also on death row.

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    On April 29, 1993, the California Supreme Court affirmed Cummings' sentence on direct appeal.

    On December 28, 2004, Cummings filed a state habeas petition.

    http://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/p...cummings-30983

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    On July 28, 2011, Cummings' habeas petition was DENIED in Federal District Court.

    http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal...7118/85803/285

    On August 25, 2011, Cummings filed an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/cir.../ca9/11-99011/

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    Oral argument will be heard on October 9, 2014 in Cummings' case before a Ninth Circuit panel made up of Judges McKeown (Clinton), O'Scannlain (Reagan) and Thomas (Clinton).

    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/calendar...6-10&year=2014

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    Family of murdered LAPD officer in limbo as killer languishes on death row

    By Brenda Gazzar
    The Los Angeles Daily News

    For three decades, Sandy Verna Jackson has longed for the day her husband’s killers would be executed.

    Raynard Cummings and Kenneth Gay were convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Los Angeles police motorcycle Officer Paul Verna six times during a traffic stop in Lake View Terrace in June 1983. The parolees, who authorities said were trying to avoid arrest for a series of violent robberies in the San Fernando Valley, were sentenced to death in 1985. Gay’s death verdict was overturned for a second time in 2008.

    Verna’s parents — now in their 90s — will probably never see resolution of his killers’ cases, Jackson notes.

    “How would you feel if your only son was murdered without provocation while doing his job to protect the citizens of Los Angeles and those scumbags were still alive 32 years later?” asked Jackson, who has remarried and lives in the Santa Clarita Valley. “It’s hard for others to imagine, but that has been our life since Paul’s was taken from all of us, and it doesn’t end.”

    Jackson represents thousands of family members of homicide victims waiting to see justice meted out for the state’s 751 condemned inmates, who are eight times more likely to die of causes other than execution. California’s failure to execute inmates hurts families, costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, bogs down the court system and arguably harms the inmates as well.

    A main reason for the delay in conducting executions is that appeals in capital cases often take two decades before a decision is made. Executions have also been on hold in the state since 2006 over lethal injection issues and, despite a recent development, are not expected to resume in the near future. Last year a federal judge ruled the state’s death penalty system was unconstitutional, which if upheld could ultimately commute all death sentences to life in prison.

    The death penalty sets up an expectation that these prisoners will be executed at some point — and that will be justice — but in California and many other states “that’s just a false promise,” said Richard Dieter, senior program director of Death Penalty Information Center, a national nonprofit that provides analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment.

    “We all believe that it’s going to be taken care of” when these cases go to court, Jackson said. “As we say, ‘justice will be served.’ We don’t realize that it isn’t.”

    In California, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, but only 13 have been executed. In contrast, 101 condemned inmates have died by other means: 67 of natural causes, 24 by suicide, seven from incidents such as drug overdoses or homicide, and three deaths that have yet to be classified, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

    Condemned inmates are kept mostly in isolation, have limited amounts of exercise and are not eligible for typical prison programs since it’s assumed they will be executed, Dieter said. Yet in California, they most often end up serving a life sentence.

    “We usually ask juries or judges to pick one or the other but not both,” he said. “It’s an extra punishment.”

    Forty percent of inmates currently on the nation’s largest death row have spent at least 20 years there, while the average time spent is more than 17 years, according to CDCR data. About 20 percent are at least 60 years old.

    While the death penalty has been on hold in California for nearly a decade, taxpayers continue to pay well over $100 million a year to maintain a system experts on both sides of the debate call broken, costly and in dire need of change.

    Rising toll

    The estimated cost of California’s death penalty totaled more than $4 billion between 1978 and 2011, including $1 billion for more secure incarceration and nearly $2 billion for pre-trial and trial costs, according to a 2011 study co-authored by Paula Mitchell, an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, and the late Senior 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon.

    They also found the state spends $184 million more on condemned prisoners each year due to added costs of capital trials, enhanced security on death row and legal representation. Californians are expected to spend an additional $5 billion to $7 billion over the cost of a life-without-parole system by 2050, the authors said in 2012.

    Using more conservative projections, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice estimated the annual costs of the death penalty system in 2008 to be about $137 million versus $11.5 million for a system of lifetime incarceration.

    The failure of leaders to respond with meaningful reforms or abolition has resulted in “the perpetration of a multibillion-dollar fraud on California taxpayers,” the 2011 study stated.

    Meanwhile, the number of the state’s condemned inmates swells each year. Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for $3.2 million from state lawmakers to convert 97 general population cells at San Quentin State Prison into those for death row inmates was approved as part of the state budget signed by Brown on Wednesday.

    Thirty-six new inmates were received on death row in 2013 and 2014 while 12 prisoners died of natural causes or suicide, according to state data.

    Lethal injection hurdle

    A settlement agreement this month opens the door for executions to possibly resume in California.

    Since 2006, state and federal courts have prevented the state from using its three-drug lethal injection procedure. Largely at issue are which drugs are used in executions and how. The state has been developing regulations for a single-drug method but has yet to propose one, an effort corrections officials say has been complicated by drug availability.

    Victims’ families sued the state in November to force it to adopt a new single-drug procedure so executions could potentially resume, and the state has agreed to submit draft regulations for review and approval within 120 days of a Supreme Court decision on Oklahoma’s lethal injection process, which is expected within days.

    The settlement offers “a ray of hope” that a valid one-drug protocol will be established and used to carry out executions, said Kent Scheidegger of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which represented the families in the lawsuit. But Matt Cherry of Death Penalty Focus, which opposes capital punishment, called it an “exercise in futility” since past attempts to create a legally sound protocol have failed and other states have been unable to find needed drugs.

    A new lethal injection process must first be devised according to state law and, if challenged as expected, approved by the courts before executions can resume, Dieter said.

    At the same time, the constitutionality of California’s death penalty system is also being challenged. U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney ruled last year that the delays and arbitrariness in executions amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The case has gone to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and if upheld could mean that some or all of the state’s death row inmates would have their sentences reduced to life without parole. Oral argument is set for Aug. 31 in Pasadena.

    California voters narrowly rejected a 2012 ballot measure that would have done away with the state’s death penalty system and converted the sentences of more than 700 inmates to life without parole.

    “When people discuss how it works in practice, including how innocent people are sentenced to death, including the disparities in sentencing based on race and income and class, and also when people realize the death penalty costs so much more than life in prison, then I think you start to see the public move against the death penalty,” Cherry said.

    Others argue for keeping the death penalty but reforming the system.

    “People who committed the very worst murders, the people who kidnapped, raped and tortured children, are getting off with less than they deserve,” Scheidegger said. “They are dragging out their cases so long to effectively commute them to life in prison and that’s not justice.”

    Dysfunctional system

    Meanwhile, the cases of Cummings and Gay are still in a maze of litigation. Cummings, 58, last year appealed a federal court’s decision to deny his petition challenging his jury conviction and sentence.

    Gay, 57, had his death sentence reversed for a second time in 2008 due to instructional error. A judge will make recommendations to the California Supreme Court regarding the competency of Gay’s original defense attorney as early as August. If the court finds the attorney was legally ineffective and that affected the outcome of the case, a new trial would be ordered to determine his guilt or innocence “like we’re starting all over,” said L.A. County Deputy District Attorney John Colello.

    Otherwise, Gay’s conviction would stand and prosecutors would decide whether to seek the death penalty for him again. Both men have denied guilt.

    Dysfunction exists at every stage of the state’s capital punishment process, said Loyola’s Mitchell.

    Since there aren’t enough attorneys trained or who want to work on capital appeals, condemned inmates can wait up to five or six years before direct appeals are even started. Because only seven justices serve on the California Supreme Court and appeals are hundreds of pages, it now takes roughly 20 years from the time a notice of appeal is filed until the court decides to affirm or reverse a conviction, she said. State and federal habeas corpus petitions often take 15 years after that.

    “It takes a tremendous amount of time for the attorneys, court staff and justices working on these appeals to consider and meaningfully address every single argument raised,” Mitchell said. “Meanwhile, decades are going by and inmates keep coming onto death row.”

    ‘A travesty’ of justice


    Bryce Verna, who was 9 when his father was killed, has few memories of him. There’s the time he killed a rattlesnake in their Thousand Oaks cul-de-sac and when his father, an avid Angels baseball fan, played catch with him at the Little League fields.

    But that hasn’t stopped Verna from modeling his life after him. Besides becoming a motor officer for LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division like his father, he was a Boy Scout and served in the U.S. Air Force, just like his Eagle Scout dad.

    His brother, Ryan, who was 4 at the time of the murder, also followed in his father’s footsteps and today is an LAPD detective in the Valley.

    “These guys have gotten to live for 30-plus years whereas my dad hasn’t seen my brother and myself grow up, seen his grandkids and carry on his life,” Verna said.

    Meanwhile, Cummings and Gay are aging at San Quentin.

    “This is a travesty of the justice system,” said Verna, who has a tattoo of his father’s police badge on his right leg beneath his uniform. “The justice system that my dad swore to uphold failed him.”

    http://www.dailynews.com/general-new...s-on-death-row

  6. #6
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    In today's opinions, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit DENIED Cummings' appeal.

    http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastor...1/11-99011.pdf

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    In today's opinions, the Ninth Circuit DENIED Cummings' petition for en banc rehearing.

    https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datasto...9/11-99011.pdf

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    In today's orders, the United States Supreme Court DENIED Cummings' petition for certiorari.

    Lower Ct: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    Case Nos.: (11-99011)
    Decision Date: August 11, 2015
    Rehearing Denied: April 29, 2016

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/search....es/16-6182.htm

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