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Full-Text Articles in Law

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 ...


Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz Jan 2018

Convictions Of Innocent People With Intellectual Disability, Sheri Johnson, John H. Blume, Amelia Courtney Hritz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court held that executing individuals with intellectual disability violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. In addition to concerns over culpability and deterrence, the Court’s judgment in Atkins was informed by the heightened “risk of wrongful execution” faced by persons with intellectual disability. This essay explores that question both anecdotally and quantitatively, hoping to illuminate the causes of wrongful conviction of persons with intellectual disability. We provide examples from our experiences in the Cornell Death Penalty Clinic and cases brought to our attention by defense attorneys. We also present ...


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 ...