Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley issued a tentative ruling today that rejected efforts by death penalty proponents to change the wording on a ballot measure that would repeal capital punishment in California.
Attorneys for the state prosecutors association -- district attorneys Jan Scully of Sacramento, Steve Cooley of Los Angeles and Elizabeth Egan of Fresno -- charged in a lawsuit that the ballot wording unfairly suggests the initiative would save money and force convicted murders to work in prison, which they already are required to do.
Frawley has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Friday to give the prosecutors an opportunity to change his mind.
The judge said in his tentative ruling he "finds nothing false or misleading" in the ballot-label wording on the death penalty measure.
The ballot title and summary "arguably is misleading in that it suggests that the measure will impose new work and restitution requirements" on life-term prisoners, Frawley said in his four-page ruling. But he said the confusion is the result of "the measure itself," and not the Attorney General's wording, which he said "accurately summarized what the measure does."
Frawley said that theoretically, the intiative, if it passes, could expand the number of life-term prisoners, including murderers, doing prison jobs and paying restitution to victims. He said this could occur by removing inmates from death row and putting them in the general population where they would become subject to work requirements.