Gomez v. United States District Court for the Northern District of California

PETITIONER: James Gomez and Daniel Vasquez
RESPONDENT: United States District Court for the Northern District of California
LOCATION: San Quentin State Prison

DOCKET NO.: A-767
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 503 US 653 (1992)
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1992

Facts of the case

In 1979, a California state court convicted Robert Allen Harris of kidnapping and murdering two teenage boys in San Diego and sentenced him to death. On April 18, 1992, three days before his scheduled execution date, Harris and other death-row inmates filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in federal district court. The complaint alleged that execution by lethal gas constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Just hours before Harris was scheduled to be executed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order to stay the execution, and the state appealed the stay to the Supreme Court.

Question

Should the order staying Harris’ execution be vacated?