Don Thompson, Associated Press
Published 1:34 pm, Thursday, January 29, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California must adopt a new process for executing condemned inmates after nearly three years of delays, a state judge ruled Thursday in a lawsuit filed by crime victims.

The tentative ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shellyanne Chang does not order the state to resume executions, which have been on hold since 2006. But she said corrections officials can’t wait any longer to find a new way to conduct executions if they are reinstituted.

The lawsuit seeks to force state corrections officials to adopt procedures for a single-drug, barbiturate-only method of execution.

Chang found that the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a duty to adopt execution procedures, but has the sole discretion to decide how the state will carry out the death penalty.