The ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of Santa Ana was limited to a single case and had no immediate impact on executions statewide, which have been halted by federal courts since 2006 because of multiple problems in lethal injection procedures. [...] if upheld on appeal, the decision would end a California capital punishment system that has been approved by the voters three times - in 1972, 1978 and 2012, when an initiative to abolish the death penalty lost by four percentage points. Executions 'unlikely'For most condemned prisoners, "systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death," said Carney, a 2003 appointee of President George W. Bush. The issue could then head to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reinstated capital punishment nationwide in 1976 - four years after declaring all state death penalty laws unconstitutional - but in recent years has narrowed its scope somewhat, banning executions of juveniles and the mentally disabled. [...] Carney said the delays in California aren't caused by needless appeals or by the state's legitimate efforts to safeguard defendants' rights, but by the "dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system." 2006 moratoriumIn 2006, a federal judge in San Jose halted executions statewide after finding that flaws in lethal injection procedures and staff training at San Quentin State Prison created an undue risk of a botched and agonizingly painful execution.