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Federal appeals considers whether California death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment

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LOS ANGELES — A federal appeals court will hear arguments about whether California's death penalty is unconstitutional because of excessive delays.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will take up the case Monday after a federal judge ruled that delays amounted to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed the ruling in the case of a Los Angeles man sentenced to die for the 1992 rape and murder of his girlfriend's mother.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney ruled last year that the death penalty was an empty promise with unpredictable delays that have seldom led to executions while jamming the state's death row.

The judge noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed since 1978.

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