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Full-Text Articles in Law

Probing "Life Qualification" Through Expanded Voir Dire, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson, A. Brian Threlkeld Jul 2001

Probing "Life Qualification" Through Expanded Voir Dire, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson, A. Brian Threlkeld

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The conventional wisdom is that most trials are won or lost in jury selection. If this is true, then in many capital cases, jury selection is literally a matter of life or death. Given these high stakes and Supreme Court case law setting out standards for voir dire in capital cases, one might expect a sophisticated and thoughtful process in which each side carefully considers which jurors would be best in the particular case. Instead, it turns out that voir dire in capital cases is woefully ineffective at the most elementary task--weeding out unqualified jurors.

Empirical evidence reveals that many ...


Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Rethinking The Role Of Religion In Death Penalty Cases, Gary J. Simson, Stephen P. Garvey Jul 2001

Knockin' On Heaven's Door: Rethinking The Role Of Religion In Death Penalty Cases, Gary J. Simson, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Religion has played a prominent role at various points of capital trials. In jury selection, peremptory challenges have been exercised against prospective jurors on the basis of their religion. At the sentencing phase, defendants have offered as mitigating evidence proof of their religiosity, and the prosecution has introduced evidence of the victim's religiosity. In closing argument, quotations from the Bible and other appeals to religion have long been common. During deliberations, jurors have engaged in group prayer and tried to sway one another with quotes from scripture.

Such practices have not gone unquestioned. Rather remarkably, however, the questions have ...


Forecasting Life And Death: Juror Race, Religion, And Attitude Toward The Death Penalty, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey, Martin T. Wells Jun 2001

Forecasting Life And Death: Juror Race, Religion, And Attitude Toward The Death Penalty, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Determining whether race, sex, or other juror characteristics influence how capital case jurors vote is difficult. Jurors tend to vote for death in more egregious cases and for life in less egregious cases no matter what their own characteristics. And a juror's personal characteristics may get lost in the process of deliberation because the final verdict reflects the jury's will, not the individual juror's. Controlling for the facts likely to influence a juror's verdict helps to isolate the influence of a juror's personal characteristics. Examining each juror's first sentencing vote reveals her own judgment ...


Innocence Protection Act: Death Penalty Reform On The Horizon, Ronald Weich Apr 2001

Innocence Protection Act: Death Penalty Reform On The Horizon, Ronald Weich

All Faculty Scholarship

The criminal justice pendulum may be swinging back in the direction of fairness. The Innocence Protection Act of 2001, introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier this year, promises meaningful reforms in the administration of capital punishment in the United States.

Unlike previous slabs at reform, the Innocence Protection Act (lPA) has a real chance to become law because it commands unusually broad bipartisan support. The Senate bill (S. 486) is sponsored by Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont and Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon. The House bill (H.R. 912) is sponsored by Democrat Bill Delahunt ...


The Deadly Paradox Of Capital Jurors, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey, Martin T. Wells Jan 2001

The Deadly Paradox Of Capital Jurors, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

We examine support for the death penalty among a unique group of respondents: one hundred and eighty-seven citizens who actually served as jurors on capital trials in South Carolina. Capital jurors support the death penalty as much as, if not more than, members of the general public. Yet capital jurors, like poll respondents, harbor doubts about the penalty's fairness. Moreover, jurors--black jurors and Southern Baptists in particular--are ready to abandon their support for the death penalty when the alternative to death is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, especially when combined with a requirement of restitution. Support for ...


Future Dangerousness In Capital Cases: Always "At Issue", John H. Blume, Stephen P. Garvey, Sheri Lynn Johnson Jan 2001

Future Dangerousness In Capital Cases: Always "At Issue", John H. Blume, Stephen P. Garvey, Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Under Simmons v. South Carolina, a capital defendant who, if not sentenced to death, will remain in prison with no chance of parole is constitutionally entitled to an instruction informing the jury of the fact, but only if the prosecution engages in conduct that places the defendant's future dangerousness "at issue." Based on data collected from interviews with South Carolina capital jurors, Professors Blume, Garvey and Johnson argue that future dangerousness is on the minds of most capital jurors, and is thus "at issue" in virtually all capital trials, regardless of the prosecution's conduct. Accordingly, the authors argue ...


Race, Peremptories, And Capital Jury Deliberations, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2001

Race, Peremptories, And Capital Jury Deliberations, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

In Lonnie Weeks's capital murder trial in Virginia in 1993, the jury was instructed: If you find from the evidence that the Commonwealth has proved beyond a reasonable doubt, either of the two alternative aggravating factors], and as to that alternative you are unanimous, then you may fix the punishment of the defendant at death or if you believe from all the evidence that the death penalty is not justified, then you shall fix the punishment of the defendant at life imprisonment ... This instruction is plainly ambiguous, at least to a lay audience. Does it mean that if the ...