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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 ...


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


The Merciful Capital Juror, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey Oct 2004

The Merciful Capital Juror, Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

We examine the role of mercy in capital sentencing along three dimensions. We first explain why mercy is a philosophically problematic virtue, and second, why it presently holds an ambiguous status within constitutional doctrine. Finally, we draw on interviews with jurors who served on capital cases in order better to understand how the behavior of merciful jurors compares to the behavior of their less merciful counterparts. Among other things, we find that merciful jurors tend to be better educated and to attend religious services regularly. We also find that merciful jurors are, as one might reasonably expect, more apt to ...


Capital Jurors As The Litmus Test Of Community Conscience For The Juvenile Death Penalty, Michael E. Antonio, Benjamin Fleury-Steiner, Valerie P. Hans, William J. Bowers Jun 2004

Capital Jurors As The Litmus Test Of Community Conscience For The Juvenile Death Penalty, Michael E. Antonio, Benjamin Fleury-Steiner, Valerie P. Hans, William J. Bowers

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This fall, the United States Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty in Simmons v. Roper. The Eighth Amendment issue before the Court in Simmons will be whether the juvenile death penalty accords with the conscience of the community. This article presents evidence that bears directly on the conscience of the community in juvenile capital cases as revealed through extensive in-depth interviews with jurors who made the critical life-or-death decision in such cases. The data come from the Capital Jury Project, a national study of the exercise of sentencing discretion in capital cases conducted with the ...


Too Young For The Death Penalty: An Empirical Examination Of Community Conscience And The Juvenile Death Penalty From The Perspective Of Capital Jurors, William J. Bowers, Benjamin Fleury-Steiner, Valerie P. Hans, Michael E. Antonio Jun 2004

Too Young For The Death Penalty: An Empirical Examination Of Community Conscience And The Juvenile Death Penalty From The Perspective Of Capital Jurors, William J. Bowers, Benjamin Fleury-Steiner, Valerie P. Hans, Michael E. Antonio

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

As our analysis of jury decisionmaking in juvenile capital trials was nearing completion, the Missouri Supreme Court declared the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional in Simmons v. Roper. The court held that the execution of persons younger than eighteen years of age at the time of their crime violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. This decision patently rejected the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Stanford v. Kentucky, which permitted the execution of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds. In deciding Simmons, the Missouri Supreme Court applied the U.S. Supreme Court's reasoning in Atkins v. Virginia ...


Virginia's Capital Jurors, Stephen P. Garvey, Paul Marcus Apr 2003

Virginia's Capital Jurors, Stephen P. Garvey, Paul Marcus

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Next to Texas, no state has executed more capital defendants than Virginia. Moreover, the likelihood of a death sentence actually being carried out is greater in Virginia than it is elsewhere, while the length of time between the imposition of a death sentence and its actual execution is shorter. Virginia has thus earned a reputation among members of the defense bar as being among the worst of the death penalty states. Yet insofar as these facts about Virginia's death penalty relate primarily to the behavior of state and federal appellate courts, they suggest that what makes Virginia's death ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


The Emotional Economy Of Capital Sentencing, Stephen P. Garvey Apr 2000

The Emotional Economy Of Capital Sentencing, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

You often hear that one reason capital jurors condemn capital defendants is that jurors don't empathize with defendants. And one reason they don't empathize is that the process of capital sentencing is rigged against empathy. Using data from the South Carolina segment of the Capital Jury Project, I try to examine the role emotion plays in capital sentencing.

Without entering here all the important and necessary caveats, I find that the self-reported emotional responses jurors have toward capital defendants run the gamut from sympathy and pity at one extreme, to disgust, anger, and fear at the other. What ...


Correcting Deadly Confusion: Responding To Jury Inquiries In Capital Cases, Stephen P. Garvey, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Paul Marcus Mar 2000

Correcting Deadly Confusion: Responding To Jury Inquiries In Capital Cases, Stephen P. Garvey, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Paul Marcus

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In Weeks v. Angelone, 528 U.S. 225 (2000), the members of the capital sentencing jury asked for clarification of the jury instructions on the essential question of whether they were required to sentence Weeks to death upon the finding of certain aggravating factors. The judge merely informed the jurors to reread the instruction. The jurors returned with a death penalty sentence. The Supreme Court held that these jurors likely understood the instructions and at most Weeks had shown a slight possibility that the jurors believed they were precluded from considering mitigating evidence. However, the results of a mock jury ...


Aggravation And Mitigation In Capital Cases: What Do Jurors Think?, Stephen P. Garvey Oct 1998

Aggravation And Mitigation In Capital Cases: What Do Jurors Think?, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The Capital Jury Project in South Carolina interviewed jurors who sat in forty-one capital murder cases. The Project asked jurors a range of questions relating to crime, the defendant, the victim, the victim's family, the jurors' deliberations, the conduct of counsel, and background characteristics of the jurors. In this essay, Professor Stephen P. Garvey presents and examines data from the Project relating to the importance jurors attach to various aggravating and mitigating factors. The results suggest that jurors have a discernible moral compass. According to the data, jurors found especially brutal killings, killings with child victims, future dangerousness, and ...


How Juries Decide Death: The Contributions Of The Capital Jury Project, Valerie P. Hans Oct 1995

How Juries Decide Death: The Contributions Of The Capital Jury Project, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In 1988 I concluded a review of what was then known about capital jury decision-making with the following observations: “[T]he penalty phase presents significant incongruities. The jurors are charged with representing the community's judgment, yet the voir dire and challenge processes have eliminated significant segments of the public from the jury. Jurors have been influenced by preceding events during voir dire questioning and the trial in pivotal ways, yet they are instructed to focus only on aggravating and mitigating evidence. They are told to ignore their emotions in perhaps one of the most emotionally charged decisions they will ...


Deadly Confusion: Juror Instructions In Capital Cases, Theodore Eisenberg, Martin T. Wells Nov 1993

Deadly Confusion: Juror Instructions In Capital Cases, Theodore Eisenberg, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

A fatal mistake. A defendant is sentenced to die because the jury was misinformed about the law. The justice system should be designed to prevent such a tragic error. Yet our interviews with jurors who served in South Carolina capital cases indicate that this nightmare is a reality.

Although our data are limited to South Carolina, the question whether jurors are adequately instructed in capital cases is of national concern. For example, the issue whether jurors should be more fully informed about the alternative to a death sentence has arisen in other states. And the question whether jurors understand the ...