Chapter 4: Coker v. Georgia: Of Rape, Race, and Burying the Past 65 results (showing 5 best matches)
- In this chapter, I will tell three stories. First is the story of the man, Ehrlich Coker, or at least the bits of his story that can be pieced together, including the story of his crimes and capital trial. Second is the story of rape and the death penalty; this part of the chapter summarizes , and the role of that decision in the proportionality line of cases. Last is the backstory, the shameful story of race that the Court elected to avoid in its opinion in
- The story of race, rape and capital punishment is easily summarized: In this country, race—of victim and offender—has virtually always been the driving force behind capital punishment for rape, and race has often heavily influenced the imposition of the death penalty for other crimes. This story has never been a secret, though the details are uglier than the summary suggests.
- had to be encouraging to the anti-death penalty community of lawyers and activists. reversed the death sentences of Ehrlich Coker, as well as those of two other Georgia defendants, John Eberheart and John Hooks, and it struck down the death penalty for the crime of rape, beginning a line of cases that required “proportionality” of the death penalty to the conduct of the defendant. While, at least from the perspective of the anti-death penalty advocacy community—one that I share—these two consequences were indubitably good, subsequent case law suggests that this good may be largely “interred with the bones.” Moreover, was surprisingly silent on the matter of race, despite the egregious record of the imposition of the death penalty on black men for the rape of white women, and this silence is an evil wrought by the members of the
- But before the Supreme Court would address the question of the proportionality of the death penalty for rape (or for any crime other than murder), it was faced with an assault on the death penalty as cruel and unusual. The story of that assault, and its apparent—albeit transient—success, is told in the chapter on
- plurality’s choice of proportionality as the tool for striking down the death penalty for rape. Earl Enmund was sentenced to death as an accomplice to murder merely because he was “the person in the car by the side of the road at the time of the killings, waiting to help the robbers escape.” holds that imposition of the death penalty for an accomplice to felony murder who “does not himself kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place or that lethal force will be employed” On the other hand, it pointed out that the evidence of jury consensus was stronger for felony murder than rape, concluding that “the evidence is overwhelming that American juries have repudiated the death penalty for crimes such as , we have the abiding conviction that the death penalty, which is ‘unique in its severity and irrevocability,’ is an excessive penalty for the robber, who as such, does not take life.”
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Introduction 33 results (showing 5 best matches)
- For most of our history, stories about the death penalty did not involve much “law.” But the gradual constitutional expansion of protections in all criminal cases inevitably transformed the debate over capital punishment into a constitutional one. One of the Court’s central projects over the past thirty five years has been to mediate the tensions between generalized commitments to equality, fairness, and accuracy, on the one hand, and the country’s increasingly isolated practice of executing offenders on the other. This volume collects many of the landmark cases during this period and looks beneath the Court’s opinions to the individual actors, social movements, and larger legal context that led to each constitutional judgment. In many respects, this volume is the story of the modern American death penalty, a story of extraordinary drama and complexity, with a final chapter yet to be written.
- The American death penalty stabilized in the decade following Gilmore’s execution. The varied state capital statutes were subject to extensive litigation, and the broad parameters of federal constitutional regulation began to emerge. State death-row populations, as well as executions, climbed substantially. Looming on the horizon, though, was a broad and potentially crippling attack against the implementation of the death penalty. The NAACP LDF, which had been instrumental in challenging the arbitrary and discriminatory use of the death penalty in the 1960s, sought to demonstrate that race discrimination continued to plague the death penalty notwithstanding the post- was ultimately instrumental in sustaining the American death penalty, and the authors critically engage the Court’s decision at this pivotal point in modern capital history. Their story neither conceals their own disappointment and disagreement with the Court’s resolution, nor obscures the genuine complexity surrounding...
- The American death penalty has had an unusual history. Capital punishment was an ordinary part of colonial criminal justice, and the death penalty was available in all states at the time of the founding (indeed, two liberty-protecting clauses of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution clearly anticipate capital prosecutions—the provision for a grand jury in cases involving “capital” or otherwise infamous crimes, and the guarantee that no person shall be “deprived of life” without due process of law). But the enlightenment philosophy that animated the American experiment with democratic self-rule also led to unprecedented efforts to cabin the reach of the death penalty. In the 1790s, Pennsylvania became the first jurisdiction to limit the availability of the death penalty for certain murders, and its effort to divide murders into “degrees”—and to withhold the death penalty for “lesser” murders—became a blueprint for the reform of capital punishment.
- Over the next half-century, the death penalty in at least some American jurisdictions was on the path of reform. In the 1830s, several states brought executions behind penitentiary walls because of the perceived coarsening effect of public executions. With the advent of penitentiaries also came the first sustained political efforts to abolish the death penalty, and Michigan became the first state to abolish the death penalty in 1846 (for all crimes other than treason)—a decision it has never reversed. Those states that retained the death penalty rejected its mandatory application, and even in cases of first degree murder, juries gradually and then universally were afforded the choice to reject the ultimate punishment. Over the next century, death penalty reform waxed and waned, with a sustained abolitionist moment in the period before the First World War (nine states). The Red Scare and the Depression reinvigorated capital punishment, with executions reaching their all-time high in...
- Jeffrey M. Jones, “Support for the Death Penalty 30 Years After the Supreme Court Ruling,” Gallup News Service, 6/30/2006, http://www.gallup.com/poll/23548/Support–Death–Penalty–Years–After–Supreme–Court–Ruling.aspx (“The year 1966 marked the only time more Americans said they were against the death penalty (47%) than said they were for it (42%).”).
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Chapter 11: Roper v. Simmons: Abolishing the Death Penalty for Juvenile Offenders in the Wake of International Consensus 72 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The Court probably would have abolished the juvenile death penalty soon even if it had not been forced to reconsider the issue in distinguishing the juvenile death penalty from the death penalty for retarded offenders, the objective . Likewise, between 1989 and 2003, public support for the death penalty diminished, and public opinion about the death penalty seems to influence the Court in ways that death-penalty doctrine does not capture. Between 2002 and 2008, the Court has reversed an unusually large number of death sentences on many different grounds, revealing a Court that is, although no less conservative in composition, more willing than it was in the late 1980s to regulate and restrict the use of the capital sanction. Given also the overwhelming consensus that had developed among other nations against the juvenile death penalty, the country was ready after to accept with relatively little criticism a judicial prohibition on the death penalty for offenses committed by...
- For an argument that changes after 1989 in societal attitudes about the death penalty generally, rather than changes captured by the Court’s “evolving standards” doctrine, largely explained the Court’s willingness to abolish the death penalty for retarded offenders, see Corinna Barrett Lain,
- As with the use of the death penalty generally, racial bias, in addition to poor defense lawyering, also influenced the use of the juvenile death penalty, especially during the pre- In the modern era, the influence of racial bias on the juvenile death penalty surely softened. But twelve of the twenty-two juvenile offenders who were executed between 1973 and 2005 were African–American or Latino, and, in seventeen of the twenty-two cases, the victim or victims were white. Sophisticated statistical studies centered on various states or cities during that period identified a high risk of racial bias in the use of the death penalty generally, and they raise questions about whether a similar risk existed in the use of the juvenile death penalty.
- where the Court outlawed capital punishment for the aggravated rape of an adult victim “not involving the taking of life.” In a decisive plurality opinion, Justice White said that a punishment is “excessive” and unconstitutional if it is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime. To resolve the case, he focused, first, on objective evidence of the public’s attitude toward the death penalty for aggravated rape, noting that Georgia was the only state that continued to authorize the death penalty for the aggravated rape of an adult victim, that juries in Georgia rarely imposed the death penalty for that offense and that few other countries authorized the death penalty for aggravated rape. Second, he applied the Justices’ “own judgment” about excessiveness, emphasizing that, while the personal interests invaded by rape were substantial, they were not equal to the personal interest in life itself. Thus, the Court held that the death penalty for the aggravated rape of an...
- In the following decade, the Court also expanded the categorical prohibitions on the death penalty. Only a few months after the Court rejected Georgia’s effort to apply the death penalty to a kidnapping where the victim was not killed. In 1982, in the Court also excluded certain minor participants in murders from eligibility for the death penalty. the Court held—although on grounds other than excessiveness—that the Eighth Amendment forbids the execution of a prisoner who is insane. These cases underscored the Court’s desire to confine the use of the death penalty to the most deserving criminals.
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Chapter 3: Gregg v. Georgia and Allied Cases: Protecting the Death Penalty from Abolition 141 results (showing 5 best matches)
- to abolish capital punishment, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine “signed into law a measure repealing New Jersey’s death penalty, …” Jeremy W. Peters, “Death Penalty Repealed in New Jersey,”
- Dissent on the bench from the majority judgment was confined to one vote. The ruling had little or no explicit effect upon death penalty deliberations in other cases or jurisdictions. However, it did foreshadow the possibility that the death penalty would henceforth be confined to homicide-related cases—as proved to be true in (death penalty for rape  (death penalty for kidnapping  ). As of 2008, the Supreme Court had yet to sustain the constitutionality of any non-homicidal death penalty statute. Seldom noticed is the fact that the Texas death penalty statute approved by the Supreme Court in
- Bork then asserted several propositions of current relevance and diverse character. First, the duty of the Court is to uphold penalties (such as any of the post– death penalty statutes) that have full-scale legislative validity and also enjoy popular respect. A raft of considerations supported this view: (1) The death penalty serves legitimate public purposes; (2) it deters crime; (3) it reinforces “important social values”; (4) it is a legitimate expression of moral outrage; (5) it is not excessive in pursuit of these values; (6) the death penalty effectively incapacitates dangerous offenders. These are the essential empirical and normative propositions undergirding the constitutionality of death penalties—according to Bork.
- Ignoring warnings that their action could be overturned by the Supreme Court, state legislators passed a bill based loosely on the death penalty provisions of the Model Penal Code, and Governor Jimmy Carter signed it into law in March, 1973. The new statute introduced several novel features that would prove of enormous influence in all other American death penalty cases, as friends of the death penalty searched for statutory schemes that would be consistent with the holding in
- Friends of the death penalty take a very different stance. They will be glad that the holdings in confirmed their belief in the constitutionality of the death penalty per se. They are less happy with the rulings made by the Court in the three leading cases that attempted to regulate the use of the death penalty. The rulings in —followed by two dozen important subsequent cases, have all but dismantled the death penalty. What we have as a result of these rulings is a form of creeping abolition: piecemeal abolition by the courts, but not by the legislatures, and half-hearted abolition by judges whose efforts to narrow the death penalty constantly
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Death Penalty Stories 7 results (showing 5 best matches)
- DEATH PENALTY STORIES
- Chapter 3: Gregg v. Georgia and Allied Cases: Protecting the Death Penalty from Abolition
- Chapter 6: McCleskey v. Kemp: Denial, Avoidance, and the Legitimization of Racial Discrimination in the Administration of the Death Penalty
- Chapter 11: Roper v. Simmons: Abolishing the Death Penalty for Juvenile Offenders in the Wake of International Consensus
- Chapter 1: When Willie Francis Died: The “Disturbing” Story Behind One of the Eighth Amendment’s Most Enduring Standards of Risk
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Chapter 6: McCleskey v. Kemp: Denial, Avoidance, and the Legitimization of Racial Discrimination in the Administration of the Death Penalty 81 results (showing 5 best matches)
- story is part of a larger tale well told elsewhere of the irony that efforts to cleanse the death penalty of arbitrariness and discrimination have “contribute[d] substantially to the stabilization and perpetuation of capital punishment as a social practice,”
- The Court’s decision appears to be based on a fear that the acceptance of McCleskey’s claim would sound the death knell for capital punishment in Georgia. If society were indeed forced to choose between a racially discriminatory death penalty (one that provides heightened protection against murder “for whites only”) and no death penalty at all, the choice mandated by the Constitution would be plain. … But the Court’s fear is unfounded. One of the lessons of the Baldus study is that there exist certain categories of extremely serious crimes for which prosecutors consistently seek, and juries consistently impose the death penalty without regard to the race of the victim or the race of the offender. If Georgia were to narrow the class of death-eligible defendants to those categories, the danger of arbitrary and discriminatory imposition of the death penalty would be significantly decreased, if not eradicated. As Justice Brennan has demonstrated in his dissenting opinion, such a...
- Slow Dancing with Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment, 1963–2006
- Not only did he see no race problem, his opinion went on to state that “[t]he Baldus study in fact confirms that the Georgia system results in a reasonable level of proportionality among the class of murderers eligible for the death penalty … the system sorts out cases where the sentence of death is highly likely and highly unlikely, leaving a midrange of case where the imposition of the death penalty in any particular case is less predictable.”
- E. Claims of Racial Discrimination in post-Furman Death Penalty Cases
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Chapter 7: Penry v. Lynaugh: The Hazards of Predicting the Future 91 results (showing 5 best matches)
- was unimportant to the American death penalty. threatened to derail the death penalty in Texas, and because Texas had already emerged as the leader in executions in the post- to Texas death-sentenced inmates threatened to reduce significantly the overall number of executions nationwide. One critical part of the story, however, is its stingy application.
- Penry’s story begins with extraordinary brutality, both in his crime and in his childhood, which led to his first case before the U.S. Supreme Court, , in 1989. It continues with his retrial, new death sentence, and extensive appeals in state and federal court that culminated in an execution date in 2000. It is followed by a last minute reprieve and yet another case in the U.S. Supreme Court, , in which his death sentence was again reversed based on essentially the same error that required reversal of his first sentence. Penry’s success in his second Supreme Court case—twelve years after his first reversal—set in motion a reconsideration of the many state and federal decisions that had withered the protections afforded by the first ...U.S. Supreme Court, despite its dwindling docket, heard an astonishing number of Texas death cases addressing the adequacy of the former Texas statute—a statute that had been repealed in 1991. In each of the five cases, the Court ruled that the...
- But by turn of the millennium, the mood of the country palpably shifted with the discovery of numerous wrongfully-convicted inmates on Illinois’ death row. The magnitude of error (thirteen death-sentenced inmates) seemed significant in its own right, but was even more troublesome given that Illinois had executed only twelve inmates in the modern era. Governor Ryan, a Republican who had long supported the death penalty, insisted on an exhaustive audit of Illinois’ capital punishment system. As the details of the wrongful convictions emerged, they painted a portrait of widespread dysfunction, including police misconduct, inadequate representation, and excessive prosecutorial zeal. Ryan issued a moratorium on executions and ultimately commuted the sentences of all 167 death-row inmates. In addition, the emergence of new DNA technology during the 1990s led to the exoneration of numerous capital and non-capital inmates nationwide. Although the public was likely aware in the abstract...
- invalidated a death-penalty practice notwithstanding its authorization by a majority of death penalty states. It focused less on what states declared legislatively and more on what states actually did. More generally, provides a blueprint for the judicial abolition of capital punishment in the United States. It privileges non-legislative criteria that overwhelmingly point against the continued use of the death penalty. The increasing rarity of death sentences and executions supports the claim that the statutes on the books do not reflect genuine public support for the punishment (especially in light of the broad net of death-eligibility cases in the post- statutes). Elite, social, and professional opinion—from religious groups, the ABA, criminologists, and others—generally rejects the notion that the death penalty serves any important penological purposes beyond those secured by the alternative of lengthy incarceration. World opinion increasingly condemns the death penalty as...
- See Death Penalty Information Center, Death Sentences in the United States from 1977 to 2006, at Death Penalty Information Center, Executions in the United States, 1976–Present, at
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Chapter 8: The Story of Payne v. Tennessee: Victims Triumphant 47 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The story of is a story of the Supreme Court’s dramatic reversal of precedent and change of the direction of its death penalty jurisprudence. It was also a significant milestone in an ongoing political struggle, the struggle of victims for inclusion and recognition in America’s criminal justice process. This struggle took place across the entire nation, in city halls, state legislatures, and the Congress, as well as the courts. The Court’s
- Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law
- Payne’s writ of certiorari identified three constitutional errors in his case, one involved the introduction of a video tape of the crime scene which it alleged prevented the jury from “making a reasoned, moral decision on whether to impose the death penalty.” The second argued that the introduction of the victim impact statement and the prosecutor’s statement to the jury violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and the third focused on a jury instruction in the penalty phase.
- Defendant was found guilty of the first degree murder of Charisse Christopher and her daughter, Lacie, and guilty of assault with intent to commit murder in the first degree of her son, Nicholas. He was given the death penalty for each of the murders and thirty (30) years for the assault with intent to commit murder offense.
- “… The death penalty was the only rational punishment available.” With this extraordinary conclusory sentence, the court dispensed with Payne’s allegations concerning the unconstitutionality of victim impact evidence. Its lengthy recitation of the facts of the crime provided the underpinnings of this judgment, a judgment seemingly so obvious and powerful that it swept
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Chapter 2: Furman v. Georgia: Not an End, But a Beginning 78 results (showing 5 best matches)
- Of course, looking back, it is clear that capital punishment in America had not remotely “run its course” or succumbed to “total abolition” in 1972. The “major milestone” of the Court’s invalidation of the death penalty turned out to be, in words of an editorial written less than a year later, “one of the briefest vanishing acts, after one of the longest buildups, in jurisprudential history.” front page that trumpeted the news of the decision in a banner headline also contained an above-the-fold story entitled “Nixon Backs Death Penalty,” which was soon followed by other news reports of wide support for the president’s plan to ask Congress to reinstate the death penalty for a variety of federal crimes, including treason, hijacking, the bombing of public buildings, and the killing of law enforcement officers. ...Reagan of California (later President) and Georgia State Representative Sam Nunn, Jr. (later U.S. Senator), immediately decried the ruling and urged reinstatement of the death...
- , the Court directly addressed the issue raised by Justice Goldberg in 1963 and struck down the death penalty as constitutionally excessive punishment for the crime of rape, at least when the victim was an adult woman. In this decision, the Court engendered a line of analysis that it has used with increasing vigor in recent years to limit the ambit of the death penalty. The Court did not focus upon—or even mention—the racially discriminatory application of the death penalty for rape; rather, it addressed the excessiveness of the punishment of death to the crime of rape in general, finding that the use of the death penalty in such circumstances made no measurable contribution to the goals of capital punishment and that the death penalty was grossly disproportionate to the underlying crime. In making the proportionality determination, the Court looked to “objective evidence” ...legislatures and sentencing juries. Noting that Georgia was the only state that still authorized the death...
- , the death penalty would remain a highly charged issue in local and state elections, because local and state elected officials play such substantial roles in crime policy, death penalty prosecutions, and the exercise of the clemency power in capital cases. insignificance of the contribution of the federal government to the national practice of capital punishment, which is overwhelmingly a state affair. Nixon, of course, played the issue for all it was worth, taking to the airwaves to defend his re-introduction of a federal death penalty and lambasting “soft-headed judges.” ...the following decade in the 1988 presidential race between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. Many remember as a turning point in the race Dukakis’ emotionless rejection of capital punishment in response to a question—during a televised debate—about how he would react if his wife, Kitty, were raped and murdered. Indeed, a 1988 presidential election exit poll revealed that more voters identified the death...
- . In the first one decided by the Court, opponents of the death penalty won a startling and significant victory: in the Court accepted one of the main procedural challenges to capital punishment, ruling that a capital defendant’s sentence could not stand when all jurors with any conscientious scruples against the death penalty were disqualified from the sentencing jury. This decision was greeted as a ruling of enormous consequence by death penalty supporters and opponents alike. Death penalty supporters worried that death sentences would become much harder to achieve, now that at least some opponents of capital punishment would sit on sentencing juries. Indeed, Justice Black in dissent suggested that the Court’s ruling might “mak[e] it impossible for States to get juries that will enforce the death penalty.” Death penalty foes saw and its companion cases to consider the petitioners’ Eighth Amendment (as opposed to Due Process) challenges to their death sentences.
- In the absence of a mandatory death penalty, White reasoned, the unwillingness of juries to impose capital punishment could not be said to frustrate legislative will. And once a certain level of infrequency of the imposition of the death penalty is reached, capital punishment is simply no longer able to serve as “a credible deterrent or measurably to contribute to any other end of punishment in the criminal justice system.” Without a legislative mandate, and with negligible returns as a matter of penal policy, the death penalty amounted to “the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes.”
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Chapter 1: When Willie Francis Died: The “Disturbing” Story Behind One of the Eighth Amendment’s Most Enduring Standards of Risk 87 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The legal system also documents memories and life narratives, either through the reporting of the facts of a case, the use of precedent, the overturning of a decision, or other vehicles. Today, of course, Willie’s story would have had a different ending. Because of the Court’s recent decision in to bar the death penalty for juveniles, Willie would never have been executed. Regardless, even if Willie had been age-eligible for the death penalty, his future would still be unclear. Mandatory death sentences, like the one under which Willie was sentenced,
- There are many stories to tell in the course of examining both the life and death of Willie Francis—stories about racism that look small-town and southern but are really nationwide in scope; stories about the risks of penal and technological debacles that appear antiquated but in fact have troubling parallels to the potential for botched electrocutions and lethal injections decades later. And, of course, there are the intimate stories about religious faith and the people surrounding Willie and his family.
- There are numerous other ways to consider Willie’s case from a “what if” perspective in light of the sea change in criminal law and procedure over the past decades. But that viewpoint is part of someone else’s legal story, not Willie’s. Willie was not afforded modern-day legal protections and he faced the death penalty, realities that are this Chapter’s focus over and above musings of what might have been. Also unknown is precisely how Willie’s experiences in the criminal justice system would be different today. Countless minority males still share many of Willie’s challenges. Not nearly enough has been achieved to ensure them sufficient safeguards.
- I know that you are trying to give me a death penalty.
- decision ended a four-year moratorium on the death penalty prompted by
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Chapter 9: Simmons v. South Carolina and the Myth of Early Release 51 results (showing 5 best matches)
- “Some prosecutors think they have a better chance of getting the death penalty (for a criminal) if the only other option is life (with a chance for parole [in] 20 years),” Rossi said. “I’m more concerned about the times that we don’t get it (the death penalty) and the violent criminal is released back on the streets.”
- In much the same way, as state Senator Drummond predicted during South Carolina’s 1986 crime bill debate, providing capital sentencing juries with an adequate alternative to the death penalty might well prove part of the evolutionary process by which the state’s electric chair would eventually take its place alongside the whipping post and the cat o’ nine tails as an outmoded historical curiosity. The question taking shape in 1991 was whether South Carolina—and every other death penalty state—could slow or stop this process by requiring jurors to mete out the death penalty under procedures distorted by the myth of early release.
- Mrs. Toal said she disagrees with people who say death[sic] without parole would make the death penalty obsolete.
- The sentencing factor of “future dangerousness” has contributed more than its share of arbitrariness to the American death-selection system ever since the Supreme Court first approved its use in To begin with, as “dangerousness” becomes salient as a rationale for death sentencing, retributive justice recedes into the background, and with it the sentencer’s ability or willingness to take into account mitigating factors such as the offender’s background or afflictions. Once you’re convinced, as Simmons’ prosecutor put it, that imposing the death penalty “will be an act of self-defense” and “a response of society to someone who is a threat,” whether that someone actually the death penalty begins to seem academic.
- death sentence,
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Chapter 10: Bell v. Cone: The Fatal Consequences of Incomplete Failure 41 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The defense lawyer’s job is steeply uphill, not just because the jurors have spent days listening to the crime’s grisly aspects, but because 70 percent of the American public supports the death penalty. And if those odds are not bad enough, the 30 percent who oppose the death penalty are not permitted to sit on a capital jury. The simple reality is that the deck is deeply stacked against the capital defendant. A death penalty lawyer’s job at the punishment phase of a capital trial is to persuade men and women who do not personally oppose the death penalty to spare the life of someone who, without provocation or excuse, has taken a human life, often in a brutal and violent way. In this job, there is little margin for error.
- In hindsight, it is clear that from the very beginning of the modern death penalty era, the states’ response to But this strategy was rare in Darrow’s day, and it remained uncommon for the first half of the modern era. True, not every story is compelling; some murders defy explanation, but a lawyer representing a murderer cannot know her client’s background unless she learns it. It took many years, however, for this simple lesson to penetrate the defense culture. For at least a decade and a half following the return of the death penalty in They would focus entirely on the first phase of the capital trial, and be entirely unprepared for the second. Eventually defense lawyers learned the lesson, however; and once they did so, the change was cataclysmic. Between 2000 and 2006, death sentences in the United States declined by nearly 60 percent.
- Death sentences were being handed out to the worst criminals who committed the worst crimes, but on the basis of illegitimate or opaque criteria. The Court majority concluded that the death penalty was not being imposed on those murderers who most deserved it. It was being applied randomly, haphazardly, inequitably. This was the problem that the states, in the aftermath of , sought to remedy. They enacted procedures designed to channel the jury’s sentencing discretion and thereby to insure that the death penalty would be imposed only on the so-called worst of the worst. The core of a capital proceeding, therefore, is not just whether the defendant committed a murder, but also whether, notwithstanding that he did commit a murder, he is one of the small handful of criminals whose crime warrants death.
- Gary Cone, Kevin Wiggins, and Calvin Burdine all had lawyers who did not do nearly enough to save their clients’ lives. All three were sentenced to death by juries that heard nothing about their backgrounds, because their lawyers did not do what death penalty lawyers are supposed to do. Yet, because an appellate court believed that Burdine had no counsel at all, and because the Supreme Court was moved by the plight of Wiggins’ personal history, two of the three death sentences were set aside. To what can we trace such disparity? The three crimes were similarly brutal. The three murderers are not so different. Even the lawyers who represented all three were not so dissimilar. The death penalty today is as arbitrary as it was when the Supreme Court struck it down a generation ago.
- To be sure, there are distinctions among these three cases, yet they seem contrived, and irrelevant. Cone’s lawyer promised much and delivered nothing. Burdine’s lawyer likewise delivered nothing, yet he also promised nothing. Wiggins’ lawyer delivered nothing, but he promised only a little. Cone’s lawyer, mentally ill at the time of trial, killed himself months later. Burdine’s lawyer simply slept. Yet Burdine escaped the sentence of death because his lawyer was comparable to Cronic’s lawyer, and so prejudice was presumed. Wiggins escaped death because seven Justices, who saw that his lawyer had not acted in accordance with the ABA Guidelines, were moved by his story, and therefore believed that a jury, or single juror, would have been, too. Cone alone remains on death row. Perhaps it is because his lawyer did a smidgen more than the lawyer who represented Wiggins. He was not quite bad enough. Perhaps it is because only Justice Stevens was moved by his story. Perhaps it is because...
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Biographies of Contributing Authors 13 results (showing 5 best matches)
- is a Professor of Law at Cornell Law School and the Director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project. Professor Blume teaches Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and several courses related to the death penalty. A 1984 graduate of the Yale Law School, a 1982 graduate of Yale Divinity School, and a 1978 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Blume clerked for the Honorable Thomas A. Clark, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He is also the former Director of the South Carolina Death Penalty Resource Center.
- , Ph.D., Harvard, 1961, is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He joined the Tufts faculty in 1966 and retired in 1999. Prior to his appointment at Tufts, he taught at Dartmouth College, Princeton University, and Reed College. He has contributed dozens of scholarly articles to journals and books, and he has written a number of popular essays for several newspapers; he has also edited several volumes dealing with issues in social, political, moral, and legal philosophy. He is best known for his long-standing interest in issues having to do with punishment in general and the death penalty in particular, on which he is a national expert (he has frequently testified against the death penalty before the U.S. Congress and many state legislatures). Professor Bedau is editor of the standard work on capital punishment,
- is the Judge Robert M. Parker Chair in Law and Co–Director of the Capital Punishment Center at the University of Texas School of Law. He served as a law clerk for Honorable Louis Pollak, U.S. District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania) and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He has taught constitutional law, criminal law, and death penalty law at the University of Texas since 1990. His work focuses primarily on the administration of capital punishment in the United States, and he has written extensively on constitutional law, federal habeas corpus, and the death penalty. Professor Steiker has testified before state legislative committees addressing death penalty issues in Texas, including state habeas reform, clemency procedures, sentencing options in capital cases, and the availability of the death penalty for juveniles and persons with mental retardation. He has also litigated extensively on behalf of indigent death-sentenced inmates in state and...
- is the Harry Pratter Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington. He is a nationally recognized scholar in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, habeas corpus, and the death penalty. He was a founding member of the Capital Jury Project, has taught about the death penalty for more than two decades at the National Judicial College and various state judicial education programs, and recently served as co-reporter for the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Capital Punishment. He has written or co-written numerous articles and book chapters about habeas corpus and the death penalty, including ones published in the Supreme Court Review, Cornell Law Review, Texas Law Review, and N.Y.U. Law Review. In 2002, he drafted the Illinois “Fundamental Justice Amendment,” a statute expanding the review powers of the Illinois Supreme Court in capital cases; the proposal was adopted in 2003 and went into effect in 2004. Prior to joining the Indiana faculty,...
- In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Professor Baldus served the New Jersey Supreme Court as a special master for proportionality review in death penalty cases. In that capacity, he and Professor Woodworth helped the New Jersey court establish the empirically based system of comparative proportionality review that the court used until the New Jersey legislature abolished capital punishment in 2007. The New Jersey court used its proportionality review database to evaluate individual death sentences for evidence of arbitrariness and to evaluate the state’s entire capital charging and sentencing system for evidence of systemic racial discrimination.
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Chapter 5: Gilmore v. Utah: The Persistent Problem of “Volunteers” 40 results (showing 5 best matches)
- As noted above, in some states all, or nearly all, of those executed have been volunteers. A number of these jurisdictions have a low commitment to actually executing those sentenced to death. In these states, the execution of volunteers conveys the impression that the death penalty enjoys more contemporary support in this country than it in fact does. Furthermore, without these volunteer executions, the “Southern” character of the current death penalty regime would be even more pronounced.
- On January 17, 1977, after a ten year hiatus, the United States re-entered the execution business. Just a few months earlier, the Supreme Court had taken the first step when it held that the death penalty was not in all respects cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment and placed its stamp of approval on several of the new, and supposedly improved, death penalty statutes. Most knowledgeable observers believed it would be years before the first execution took place. They were wrong. They did not anticipate that one of the newly condemned inmates would volunteer for execution. But Gary Gilmore, a Utah death row inmate, did just that. At 8:06 in the morning, five sharpshooters chosen by the Warden took aim at a target pinned on Gary Gilmore’s shirt by a physician to indicate where Gilmore’s heart was located and, on command, fired. Gilmore was quickly pronounced dead, taken to a hospital, where his eyes were harvested and donated, his
- There are several possible, and not mutually exclusive explanations for the frenzy to kill. At certain points in the history of the death penalty, in fact when it appears most fragile, there is a dogged determination by its supporters to press on. The recent executions in Texas and other states following the Supreme Court’s rejection of the challenge to lethal injection in ...executed. He was white, thus issues of racial bias which had been the center of many legal attacks on capital punishment were not at issue. There was no lingering doubt about his guilt, the evidence was clear. He was intelligent, and there did not seem to be any compelling evidence of any major psychiatric illness. Gilmore demonstrated no remorse. He also had a long criminal record and a history of poor behavior in prison, thus it was unlikely he could be rehabilitated. He also taunted the system for its lack of will and courage in going forward with the death sentence. He was, in many respects, the... ...death...
- Justices White, Brennan, Marshall and Blackmun dissented. Justice White, joined by Brennan and Marshall noted that “substantial questions” existed about the constitutionality of the Utah death penalty statute, none of which were resolved by the state courts due to Gilmore’s “purported waiver.” remand the case for reconsideration “in light of the death penalty decisions announce by this Court last term.”
- Professor of Law, Cornell Law School and Director, Cornell Death Penalty Project.
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Chapter 12: House v. Bell and the Death of Innocence 44 results (showing 5 best matches)
- The jury unanimously found all three aggravating circumstances, concluded that there were no mitigating circumstances to outweigh the aggravating circumstances, and recommended the death penalty. The judge sentenced House to death.
- Dwight Lewis, “Did He Kill Her? Doubts, Denial, and a Death Penalty Case,” Nashville Tennesseean, Oct. 17, 2004; Editorial, “A Troubling Death–Row Case and a Divided Court,” Nashville Tennesseean, Oct. 11, 2004.
- See Rob Warden, Illinois Death Penalty Reform: How It Happened, What It Promises, 95 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 381 (2005) (noting 17 exonerations from Illinois’s Death Row between 1972 and 2003).
- House’s lawyer filed an appeal of House’s conviction and death sentence to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The grounds for appeal included the following: (1) four prospective jurors were wrongly excused, upon challenges for cause made by the state, based on their views in opposition to the death penalty; (2) the prosecution violated Tennessee criminal procedure rules by not providing the defense with an adequate and timely opportunity to conduct its own independent tests on the bloodstained jeans; (3) the prosecution improperly commented on the defendant’s decision not to testify in his own behalf; (4) the jury instructions improperly shifted the burden of proof to the defense; (5) the trial court failed to suppress the defendant’s statements to the police; (6) the prosecution wrongly introduced evidence, at sentencing, about the length of the defendant’s Utah prison sentence and the fact that he was out on parole; (7) the jury was allowed to consider guilt-phase evidence during the...
- The fundamental justice determination differs from the traditional appellate review conducted in death penalty cases…. [P]rinciples of deference and standards of review do not play a role in the fundamental justice determination itself—they simply are not relevant.
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- Publication Date: March 19th, 2009
- ISBN: 9781599413433
- Subject: Corrections and Sentencing
- Series: Law Stories
- Type: Overviews
- Description: Blume and Steiker's Death Penalty Stories offers rich and detailed accounts of the most important capital cases in American law. This volume provides comprehensive examination of the canonical cases, as well as coverage of core issues such as: Representation Protections for the innocent Proportionality limits Execution methods The problem of volunteers The guarantee of heightened reliability