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Jeremy Fogel

Jeremy Fogel


Jeremy Fogel


Jeremy Fogel is the current director of the Federal Judicial Center. Prior to this appointment, Jeremy Fogel served as a municipal court judge in Santa Clara County, California, from 1981 to 1986 before being promoted to the Superior Court of Santa Clara county, a position he would maintain until his appointment to Federal District Court in 1998, a position he maintained until 2011.


During his time serving as a Federal District Court judge, Jeremy Fogel was most associated with a legal decision that effectively led to a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty in the state of California. This decision was issued in the case of Michael Morales, who was convicted in the murder of a 17-year-old woman that occurred in 1981. While Morales did not dispute that he was the killer, his defense strategy rested on the fact that he was under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug PCP, making him ineligible for "special circumstances," the burden of proof required to administer the death penalty in California.


A series of appeals failed to result in a reversal of the death penalty. In 2005, a study was published in a British medical journal stating that the three drugs used by California in lethal injection had been found to possibly lead to severe pain in the person being killed. Following the publication of this study, the two anesthesiologists who were to be present at the execution of Morales to ensure he was not in pain withdrew and refused to participate in the execution.


This case was then reviewed by Jeremy Fogel, who heard testimony both from medical professionals and victims of those who had been killed and witnessed the execution of the convicted murderers. Jeremy Fogel was also shown the execution room, which he considered so small as to be an inhumane site for the execution. Based on this evidence, Jeremy Fogel forbid the execution of Morales except through a direct injection of a single drug into his veins rather than the potentially painful three-drug combination. In his ruling, Jeremy Fogel also stipulated that this injection could only be performed by a licensed doctor, nurse or medical technician. As part of his ruling, Jeremy Fogel stated that such executions were a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The state of California was unable to obtain a medical professional willing to perform the injection and chose to let the death warrant for Morales elapse.


In response to the ruling issued by Jeremy Fogel, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not appeal. Instead, he ordered the state to address the concerns raised by Jeremy Fogel in his opinion. However, the state of California has been unable to create new procedures and hire staff in order to implement a lethal injection procedure that would be in compliance with the standards set by the ruling issued by Jeremy Fogel. As a result, the state of California has not executed a prisoner since and is not expected to be able any time soon.