In the wake of a California Supreme Court ruling blocking Thursday's execution of a convicted murderer, state officials this afternoon formally dropped their appeal of a federal court stay.
The action brings an end to the state's efforts to execute Albert Greenwood Brown, 56, this year for the 1980 rape and murder of Susan Jordan, 15, of Riverside.
State lawyers filed a notice informing the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco that they were dropping their appeal of a stay of execution issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose.
The attorneys wrote that under the state high court ruling, "no execution of Albert Greenwood Brown can occur on September 30, 2010, as a matter of state law."
The appeal is therefore moot, the state said.
Brown had been scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Quinn had told the court this week that if the Supreme Court ruled against the state "the execution will not be able to proceed."
The court's order now meant the soonest that officials can execute Brown is Friday. But by then, the state's entire supply of a lethal injection drug will have expired.
The California Supreme Court's seven justices, in an order issued in San Francisco, said, "No compelling reason appears why this court should, by extraordinary means, remove an obstacle to Brown's execution by denying" the normal appeal time in a case filed by two other inmates.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state corrections director Matthew Cate appealed to a federal circuit court in San Francisco to allow Brown's execution.
The officials asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a stay issued late Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose in the case of Albert Greenwood Brown.
Fogel said he needed more time for a full review of whether the state's recently revised three-drug lethal injection protocol carries a risk of causing unconstitutional severe pain.
Fogel's order was in response to a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit late Monday instructing him to reconsider granting a stay and to "take the time necessary" to review the protocol.
But state lawyers, in an appeal petition filed this morning, said there is no proof that the revised protocol could cause pain.
The attorneys wrote, "Over the course of the last four years, California has dutifully endeavored to ensure the quality of its lethal injection processes.
"There is no evidence demonstrating any risk to Brown or any condemned inmate under this current protocol," the state lawyers said.
There was only a narrow window of three hours Thursday evening in which Brown could be executed because the state's supply of one of the drugs used expire on Friday. Authorities have said that because of a nationwide shortage, they don't expect to obtain more of the drug, the sedative sodium thiopental, until early next year.