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Sims v. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

California Court of Appeal
157 Cal. Rptr. 3d 409 (2013)


The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) (defendant) administered a state statute providing for the execution of condemned inmates by lethal injection. The CDCR promulgated standards for lethal injections in a manual known as the San Quentin Operational Procedure Number 0-770 (OP 770). The California Court of Appeals found the CDCR failed to promulgate revisions to OP 770 in accordance with the regulatory approval process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In response, the CDCR initiated the rulemaking process for OP 770 by submitting draft regulations and a notice of proposed regulatory action to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The CDCR also issued an initial statement of reasons (ISOR) explaining the rationale for the proposed regulations. During the notice and comment period, the CDCR received 29,416 comments from the public. Moreover, during a six-hour public hearing, 102 people expressed their opinions. Upon obtaining approval by the OAL, the CDCR implemented the regulations. Mitchell Sims (plaintiff) challenged the regulations, claiming the CDCR failed to substantially comply with the mandatory procedural requirements of the APA. The CDCR failed to comply with a number of procedural requirements, including: the failure to explain its consideration and rejection of alternatives to the proposed regulations, the failure to make the entire rulemaking file available to the public until six weeks after publication of the notice of proposed action, the failure to summarize and provide a response to two dozen written comments, and the inclusion of irrelevant information in the rulemaking file. The trial court found the agency failed to substantially comply with the APA and invalidated the regulations. The CDCR appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kline, J.)

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