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The Limits Of Law In The Evaluation Of Mitigating Evidence, Emad H. Atiq, Erin L. Miller Apr 2018

The Limits Of Law In The Evaluation Of Mitigating Evidence, Emad H. Atiq, Erin L. Miller

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Capital sentencers are constitutionally required to "consider" any mitigating evidence presented by the defense. Under Lockett v. Ohio and its progeny, neither statutes nor common law can exclude mitigating factors from the sentencer's consideration or place conditions on when such factors may be considered. We argue that the principle underlying this line of doctrine is broader than courts have so far recognized. A natural starting point for our analysis is judicial treatment of evidence that the defendant suffered severe environmental deprivation ("SED"), such as egregious child abuse or poverty. SED has played a central role in the Court's ...


Autonomy Isn't Everything: Some Cautionary Notes On Mccoy V. Louisiana, W. Bradley Wendel Jan 2018

Autonomy Isn't Everything: Some Cautionary Notes On Mccoy V. Louisiana, W. Bradley Wendel

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision in McCoy v. Louisiana has been hailed as a decisive statement of the priority of the value of a criminal defendant’s autonomy over the fairness and reliability interests that also inform both the Sixth Amendment and the ethical obligations of defense counsel. It also appears to be a victory for the vision of client-centered representation and the humanistic value of the inherent dignity of the accused. However the decision is susceptible to being read too broadly in ways that harm certain categories of defendants. This paper offers a couple of cautionary notes ...


If It Walks Like Systematic Exclusion And Quacks Like Systematic Exclusion: Follow-Up On Removal Of Women And African-Americans In Jury Selection In South Carolina Capital Cases, 1997-2014, Ann M. Eisenberg, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume Apr 2017

If It Walks Like Systematic Exclusion And Quacks Like Systematic Exclusion: Follow-Up On Removal Of Women And African-Americans In Jury Selection In South Carolina Capital Cases, 1997-2014, Ann M. Eisenberg, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article builds on an earlier study analyzing bases and rates of removal of women and African-American jurors in a set of South Carolina capital cases decided between 1997 and 2012. We examine and assess additional data from new perspectives in order to establish a more robust, statistically strengthened response to the original research question: whether, and if so, why, prospective women and African-American jurors were disproportionately removed in different stages of jury selection in a set of South Carolina capital cases.

The study and the article it builds on add to decades of empirical research exploring the impacts (or ...


The Pre-Furman Juvenile Death Penalty In South Carolina: Young Black Life Was Cheap, Sheri Lynn Johnson, John H. Blume, Hannah L. Freedman Apr 2017

The Pre-Furman Juvenile Death Penalty In South Carolina: Young Black Life Was Cheap, Sheri Lynn Johnson, John H. Blume, Hannah L. Freedman

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Capital punishment in this country, and in South Carolina, has its roots in racial subjugation, stereotype, and animosity. The extreme disparities we report here have dampened due to the combined effects of decreasing levels of open racial antagonism, the reforms of the modem death penalty, including categorical exemptions for juveniles and person with intellectual disabilities and prohibition of the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of rape, and the (small) increase in diversity in capital juries. But dampened does not mean eradicated. Significant disparities in the administration of capital punishment persist today. The color of a defendant's ...


When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume Nov 2016

When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The neuroscience of empathy provides one more reason to believe that the decision to sentence another human being to death is inevitably an arbitrary one, and one that cannot be divorced from either race or caprice. While we can tinker with aspects of capital trials that exacerbate caprice and discrimination stemming from empathy, we cannot alter basic neural responses to the pain of others and therefore cannot rationalize (in either sense of the word) empathic responses.


Instrumentalizing The Expressive: Transplanting Sentencing Circles Into The Canadian Criminal Trial, Toby S. Goldbach Jan 2016

Instrumentalizing The Expressive: Transplanting Sentencing Circles Into The Canadian Criminal Trial, Toby S. Goldbach

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article examines reforms to criminal sentencing procedures in Canada, focusing on Aboriginal healing circles, which were incorporated as "sentencing circles" into the criminal trial. Using the lens of comparative law and legal transplants, this Article recounts the period of sentencing reform in Canada in the 1990s, when scholars, practitioners, and activists inquired into Aboriginal confrontation with the criminal justice system by comparing Euro-Canadian and Aboriginal justice values and principles. As a way to bridge the gap between vastly differing worldviews and approaches to justice, judges and Aboriginal justice advocates transplanted sentencing circles into the sentencing phase of the criminal ...


Forty Years Of Death: The Past, Present, And Future Of The Death Penalty In South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years), John H. Blume, Lindsey S. Vann Jan 2016

Forty Years Of Death: The Past, Present, And Future Of The Death Penalty In South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years), John H. Blume, Lindsey S. Vann

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Forty years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States deemed constitutional new death penalty laws intended to minimize the arbitrariness which led the Court to invalidate all capital sentencing statutes four years earlier in Furman v. Georgia. Over the last four decades the Court has — time and again — attempted to regulate the “machinery of death.” Looking back over the Court’s work, many observers, including two current Supreme Court justices, have questioned whether the modern death penalty has lived up to expectations set by the Court in the 1970s or if, despite 40 years of labor, the American death ...


Victim Gender And The Death Penalty, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Valerie P. Hans, Theodore Eisenberg, Martin T. Wells, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson Jan 2014

Victim Gender And The Death Penalty, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Valerie P. Hans, Theodore Eisenberg, Martin T. Wells, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Previous research suggests that cases involving female victims are more likely to result in death sentences. The current study examines possible reasons for this relationship using capital punishment data from the state of Delaware. Death was sought much more for murders of either male or female white victims compared to murders of black male victims. Analyzing capital sentencing hearings in Delaware from 1977-2007 decided by judges or juries, we found that both characteristics of the victims and characteristics of the murders differentiated male and female victim cases. The presence of sexual victimization, the method of killing, the relationship between the ...


Altering Attention In Adjudication, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Aug 2013

Altering Attention In Adjudication, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Judges decide complex cases in rapid succession but are limited by cognitive constraints. Consequently judges cannot allocate equal attention to every aspect of a case. Case outcomes might thus depend on which aspects of a case are particularly salient to the judge. Put simply, a judge focusing on one aspect of a case might reach a different outcome than a judge focusing on another. In this Article, we report the results of a series of studies exploring various ways in which directing judicial attention can shape judicial outcomes. In the first study, we show that judges impose shorter sentences when ...


Contrition In The Courtroom: Do Apologies Affect Adjudication?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Jul 2013

Contrition In The Courtroom: Do Apologies Affect Adjudication?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Apologies usually help to repair social relationships and appease aggrieved parties. Previous research has demonstrated that in legal settings, apologies influence how litigants and juries evaluate both civil and criminal defendants. Judges, however, routinely encounter apologies offered for instrumental reasons, such as to reduce a civil damage award or fine, or to shorten a criminal sentence. Frequent exposure to insincere apologies might make judges suspicious of or impervious to apologies. In a series of experimental studies with judges as research participants, we find that in some criminal settings, apologies can induce judges to be more lenient, but overall, apologizing to ...


Plea Bargaining And The Right To The Effective Assistance Of Counsel: Where The Rubber Hits The Road In Capital Cases, John H. Blume Dec 2012

Plea Bargaining And The Right To The Effective Assistance Of Counsel: Where The Rubber Hits The Road In Capital Cases, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Notes On Borrowing And Convergence, Robert L. Tsai, Nelson Tebbe Oct 2011

Notes On Borrowing And Convergence, Robert L. Tsai, Nelson Tebbe

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This is a response to Jennifer E. Laurin, "Trawling for Herring: Lessons in Doctrinal Borrowing and Convergence," 111 Colum. L. Rev. 670 (2011), which analyzes the Supreme Court's resort to tort-based concepts to limit the reach of the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule. We press three points. First, there are differences between a general and specific critique of constitutional borrowing. Second, the idea of convergence as a distinct phenomenon from borrowing has explanatory potential and should be further explored. Third, to the extent convergence occurs, it matters whether concerns of judicial administration or political reconstruction are driving doctrinal changes.


In Defense Of Noncapital Habeas: A Response To Hoffmann And King, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Keir M. Weyble Mar 2011

In Defense Of Noncapital Habeas: A Response To Hoffmann And King, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Keir M. Weyble

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

For decades, federal habeas corpus review of state court judgments has generated wide-ranging, sometimes heated, debate among judges, policymakers, and scholars. In their 2009 Essay, Rethinking the Federal Role in State Criminal Justice, Professors Joseph L. Hoffmann and Nancy J. King added their voices to the exchange, contending that federal habeas corpus review of noncapital state court convictions and sentences should, with narrow exceptions, be abolished. They contend that the expenditure of money, time, and effort necessary to provide review in such cases is no longer justifiable and that those resources should be redirected to creating a federal initiative for ...


Racial Epithets In The Criminal Process, Sheri Lynn Johnson, John H. Blume, Patrick M. Wilson Jan 2011

Racial Epithets In The Criminal Process, Sheri Lynn Johnson, John H. Blume, Patrick M. Wilson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The evidence of modern bias is often difficult to document and, even when documented, still capable of racially neutral interpretations. In contrast, the use of racial epithets is neither subtle nor ambiguous. Prior to the research that generated this article and our representation of two clients whose cases involved racial epithets, we would have assumed that the use of a racial epithet by a decision-maker in a criminal trial would be rare, but that assumption turns out to be wrong. We also would have assumed that the use of an epithet by any of the decision makers would lead to ...


Reconsidering Trials In Absentia At The Special Tribunal For Lebanon: An Application Of The Tribunal's Early Jurisprudence, Maggie Gardner Jan 2011

Reconsidering Trials In Absentia At The Special Tribunal For Lebanon: An Application Of The Tribunal's Early Jurisprudence, Maggie Gardner

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Since Nuremburg, no individual has been prosecuted in an international or internationalized court entirely in his or her absence. That may soon change. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is empowered to try defendants in absentia, has now confirmed its first indictment. While its trial in absentia procedures were met with concern and criticism from some quarters when they were first announced, reconsideration is warranted in light of subsequent judicial developments. The judges of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have now established in their preliminary decisions an interpretive approach to the Tribunal’s Statute that is adamantly purposive. This purposive ...


Probabilities In Probable Cause And Beyond: Statistical Versus Concrete Harms, Sherry F. Colb Jul 2010

Probabilities In Probable Cause And Beyond: Statistical Versus Concrete Harms, Sherry F. Colb

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Japan's New Lay Judge System: Deliberative Democracy In Action?, Zachary Corey, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2010

Japan's New Lay Judge System: Deliberative Democracy In Action?, Zachary Corey, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Sheri Johnson, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Mar 2009

Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Sheri Johnson, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Race matters in the criminal justice system. Black defendants appear to fare worse than similarly situated white defendants. Why? Implicit bias is one possibility. Researchers, using a well-known measure called the implicit association test, have found that most white Americans harbor implicit bias toward Black Americans. Do judges, who are professionally committed to egalitarian norms, hold these same implicit biases? And if so, do these biases account for racially disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system? We explored these two research questions in a multi-part study involving a large sample of trial judges drawn from around the country. Our results ...


Federal Criminal Appeals: A Brief Empirical Perspective, Michael Heise Jan 2009

Federal Criminal Appeals: A Brief Empirical Perspective, Michael Heise

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Although few dispute the appellate process's centrality to justice systems, especially in the criminal context, debates over rationales supporting the appellate process's vaunted status in adjudication systems persist. Clearly, it is difficult to overestimate error correction as a justification for an appellate system. Of course, other rationales, such as a desire for lawmaking and legitimacy, also support the inclusion of a mechanism for appellate review in an adjudication system.

Though comparative latecomers, appellate courts are now ubiquitous in the American legal landscape—appellate review exists in state and federal systems for criminal convictions. Despite general agreement and widespread ...


The Bounds Of Necessity, Jens David Ohlin May 2008

The Bounds Of Necessity, Jens David Ohlin

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The current controversy surrounding the legality of torture can only be understood through an analysis of the distinction between justified necessity and excused necessity. Although there may be strong prudential reasons for international criminal courts to declare torture unlawful under any circumstance, this would not necessarily prevent a court from recognizing that an excuse may apply. However, the hallmark of the necessity excuse should not be understood, as it is in German law, as an exception that only applies when a defendant breaks the law to save someone close to him. Rather, the basic principle of the excuse ought to ...


Statistics In The Jury Box: How Jurors Respond To Mitochondrial Dna Match Probabilities, David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson Dec 2007

Statistics In The Jury Box: How Jurors Respond To Mitochondrial Dna Match Probabilities, David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article describes parts of an unusually realistic experiment on the comprehension of expert testimony on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing in a criminal trial for robbery. Specifically, we examine how jurors who responded to summonses for jury duty evaluated portions of videotaped testimony involving probabilities and statistics. Although some jurors showed susceptibility to classic fallacies in interpreting conditional probabilities, the jurors as a whole were not overwhelmed by a 99.98% exclusion probability that the prosecution presented. Cognitive errors favoring the defense were more prevalent than ones favoring the prosecution. These findings lend scant support to the legal argument that ...


Race And Recalcitrance: The Miller-El Remands, Sheri Johnson Oct 2007

Race And Recalcitrance: The Miller-El Remands, Sheri Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In Batson v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court held that a prosecutor may not peremptorily challenge a juror based upon his or her race. Although Baston was decided more than twenty years ago, some lower courts still resist its command. Three recent cases provide particularly egregious examples of that resistance. The Fifth Circuit refused the Supreme Court's instruction in Miller-El v. Cockrell, necessitating a second grant of certiorari in Miller-El v. Dretke. The court then reversed and remanded four lower court cases for reconsideration in light of Miller-El, but in two cases the lower courts have thus far considered, those ...


Every Juror Wants A Story: Narrative Relevance, Third Party Guilt And The Right To Present A Defense, John H. Blume, Sheri L. Johnson, Emily C. Paavola Jul 2007

Every Juror Wants A Story: Narrative Relevance, Third Party Guilt And The Right To Present A Defense, John H. Blume, Sheri L. Johnson, Emily C. Paavola

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

On occasion, criminal defendants hope to convince a jury that the state has not met its burden of proving them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by offering evidence that someone else (a third party) committed the crime. Currently, state and federal courts assess the admissibility of evidence of third-party guilt using a variety of standards. In general, however, there are two basic approaches. Many state courts require a defendant to proffer evidence of some sort of direct link or connection between a specific third-party and the crime. A second group of state courts, as well as federal courts, admit evidence ...


Questions Of Mercy, Stephen P. Garvey Apr 2007

Questions Of Mercy, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

My aim in this brief introduction is to organize the Symposium articles around two questions, recognizing that doing so means ignoring other important questions to which the articles attend. I also aim to paint in broad strokes, thus also ignoring much of the argumentative subtlety and nuance contained in the articles. With those caveats on the table, the questions are these: First, does mercy have any legitimate role to play in the administration of the criminal law of a liberal state? Second, if mercy does have some such role to play, for what reasons, or upon what grounds, can mercy ...


Standing Room Only: Why Fourth Amendment Exclusion And Standing Can No Longer Logically Coexist, Sherry F. Colb Feb 2007

Standing Room Only: Why Fourth Amendment Exclusion And Standing Can No Longer Logically Coexist, Sherry F. Colb

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Wishing Petitioners To Death: Factual Misrepresentations In Fourth Circuit Capital Cases, Sheri Lynn Johnson Jul 2006

Wishing Petitioners To Death: Factual Misrepresentations In Fourth Circuit Capital Cases, Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Expert Testimony In Capital Sentencing: Juror Responses, John H. Montgomery, J. Richard Ciccone, Stephen P. Garvey, Theodore Eisenberg Dec 2005

Expert Testimony In Capital Sentencing: Juror Responses, John H. Montgomery, J. Richard Ciccone, Stephen P. Garvey, Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Furman v. Georgia (1972), held that the death penalty is constitutional only when applied on an individualized basis. The resultant changes in the laws in death penalty states fostered the involvement of psychiatric and psychologic expert witnesses at the sentencing phase of the trial, to testify on two major issues: (1) the mitigating factor of a defendant’s abnormal mental state and (2) the aggravating factor of a defendant’s potential for future violence. This study was an exploration of the responses of capital jurors to psychiatric/psychologic expert testimony during capital sentencing. The ...


Reliability Matters: Reassociating Bagley Materality, Strickland Prejudice, And Cumulative Harmless Error, John H. Blume, Christopher W. Seeds Jul 2005

Reliability Matters: Reassociating Bagley Materality, Strickland Prejudice, And Cumulative Harmless Error, John H. Blume, Christopher W. Seeds

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Most commonly invoked after conviction and direct appeal, when a defendant may claim that his lawyer was ineffective or that the government failed to disclose exculpatory information, the Brady doctrine, which governs the prosecutor’s duty to disclose favorable evidence to the defense, and the Strickland doctrine, which monitors defense counsel’s duty to represent the client effectively, have developed into the principal safeguards of fair trials, fundamental to the protection of defendants’ constitutional rights and arguably defendants’ strongest insurance of a reliable verdict. But the doctrines do not sufficiently protect these core values.

The doctrines, despite their common due ...


Judge-Jury Agreement In Criminal Cases: A Partial Replication Of Kalven And Zeisel's The American Jury, Theodore Eisenberg, Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, Valerie P. Hans, Nicole L. Waters, G. Thomas Munsterman, Stewart J. Schwab, Martin T. Wells Mar 2005

Judge-Jury Agreement In Criminal Cases: A Partial Replication Of Kalven And Zeisel's The American Jury, Theodore Eisenberg, Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, Valerie P. Hans, Nicole L. Waters, G. Thomas Munsterman, Stewart J. Schwab, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This study uses a new criminal case data set to partially replicate Kalven and Zeisel's classic study of judge-jury agreement. The data show essentially the same rate of judge-jury agreement as did Kalven and Zeisel for cases tried almost 50 years ago. This study also explores judge-jury agreement as a function of evidentiary strength (as reported by both judges and juries), evidentiary complexity (as reported by both judges and juries), legal complexity (as reported by judges), and locale. Regardless of which adjudicator's view of evidentiary strength is used, judges tend to convict more than juries in cases of ...


Juror Bias Is A Special Problem In High-Profile Trials, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2005

Juror Bias Is A Special Problem In High-Profile Trials, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Scott Peterson's jury convicted him and sentenced him to death. Whether he had a fair jury is a question that the appellate courts will confront as they review Peterson's appeal of his conviction and sentence. Would the jury have reached the same decisions if the case had not been so extensively covered in the media? Or was Scott Peterson condemned by media publicity? Whatever your verdict, the Peterson trial provides yet another example of the hurdles to fair trials in high-profile cases.