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Full-Text Articles in Law

Courts, Culture, And The Lethal Injection Stalemate, Eric Berger Oct 2020

Courts, Culture, And The Lethal Injection Stalemate, Eric Berger

William & Mary Law Review

The Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Bucklew v. Precythe reiterated the Court’s great deference to states in Eighth Amendment lethal injection cases. The takeaway is that when it comes to execution protocols, states can do what they want. Events on the ground tell a very different story. Notwithstanding courts’ deference, executions have ground to a halt in numerous states, often due to lethal injection problems. State officials and the Court’s conservative Justices have blamed this development on “anti-death penalty activists” waging “guerilla war” on capital punishment. In reality, though, a variety of mostly uncoordinated actors motivated by ...


Urge To Reform Life Without Parole So Nonviolent Addict Offenders Never Serve Lifetime Behind Bars, Johanna Poremba Jan 2020

Urge To Reform Life Without Parole So Nonviolent Addict Offenders Never Serve Lifetime Behind Bars, Johanna Poremba

Touro Law Review

No abstract provided.


Bucklew V. Precythe: The Power Of Assumptions And Lethal Injection, Renata Gomez Mar 2019

Bucklew V. Precythe: The Power Of Assumptions And Lethal Injection, Renata Gomez

Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy Sidebar

Once again, the Supreme Court of the United States has an opportunity to determine the extent to which death-row inmates can bring as-applied challenges to the states’ method of execution and prevent possible botched executions. In Bucklew v. Precythe, the Court will confront the assumptions that the execution team is equipped to handle any execution and that the procedure will go as planned. Additionally, the Court will determine whether the standard articulated in Glossip v. Gross, which requires inmates asserting facial challenges to the states’ method of execution to plead a readily available alternative method of execution, further extends to ...


All Bathwater, No Baby: Expressive Theories Of Punishment And The Death Penalty, Susan A. Bandes Apr 2018

All Bathwater, No Baby: Expressive Theories Of Punishment And The Death Penalty, Susan A. Bandes

Michigan Law Review

A review of Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker, Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment.


Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber Jan 2018

Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber

Articles

McCleskey v. Kemp, the case that upheld the death penalty despite undeniable evidence of its racially disparate impact, is indelibly marked by Justice William Brennan’s phrase, “a fear of too much justice.” The popular interpretation of this phrase is that the Supreme Court harbored what I call a “disparity-claim fear,” dreading a future docket of racial discrimination claims and erecting an impossibly high bar for proving an equal protection violation. A related interpretation is that the majority had a “color-consciousness fear” of remedying discrimination through race-remedial policies. In contrast to these conventional views, I argue that the primary anxiety ...


Parsing Personal Predilections: A Fresh Look At The Supreme Court's Cruel And Unusual Death Penalty Jurisprudence, Susan M. Raeker-Jordan Nov 2017

Parsing Personal Predilections: A Fresh Look At The Supreme Court's Cruel And Unusual Death Penalty Jurisprudence, Susan M. Raeker-Jordan

Maine Law Review

The now well-known case of Atkins v. Virginia decided that the execution of those with mental retardation constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The more recent case of Roper v. Simmons decided that execution of those who were under the age of eighteen when they committed their crimes also constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Both decisions changed the law that had existed since 1989, when the Court held in Penry v. Lynaugh and Stanford v. Kentucky that executions of members of both classes were not unconstitutional. Writing for the Court in Atkins v. Virginia, Justice Stevens was ...


Death Row, Calls For Indifference, And Redemption Of The Soul, Corinna Barrett Lain Jan 2016

Death Row, Calls For Indifference, And Redemption Of The Soul, Corinna Barrett Lain

Law Faculty Publications

In this Response, I first engage with McLeod’s article, summarizing its key claims and endorsing its call for legislative action, while disagreeing at times with the analytical moves it makes along the way. I then turn to two questions that the article inspired. One stems from comments in the constitutional, academic, and public discourse calling for indifference to the way we treat the condemned in light of the way they treated their victims. Given the depravity of the crimes the condemned have committed, why should we care about the conditions under which they are housed on death row? The ...


"Outsmarting" Death By Putting Capital Punishment On Life Support: The Need For Uniform State Evaulations Of The Intellectually Disabled In The Wake Of Hall V. Florida, Taylor B. Dougherty Jan 2016

"Outsmarting" Death By Putting Capital Punishment On Life Support: The Need For Uniform State Evaulations Of The Intellectually Disabled In The Wake Of Hall V. Florida, Taylor B. Dougherty

Brooklyn Law Review

While the Supreme Court has yet to hold capital punishment per se unconstitutional, the Court has exempted certain groups of individuals from being eligible for capital punishment, due to concerns about the protection against cruel and unusual punishment provided for in the 8th Amendment. One such group is individuals who are intellectually disabled (the term which replaced the long-used mental retardation). But in exempting such individuals from capital punishment in its decision in Atkins v. Virginia, the Court left it to the states to establish metrics for determining which defendants are in fact intellectually disabled so as to warrant exemption ...


The Firing Squad As "A Known And Available Alternative Method Of Execution" Post-Glossip, Deborah W. Denno Jan 2016

The Firing Squad As "A Known And Available Alternative Method Of Execution" Post-Glossip, Deborah W. Denno

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article does not address the medical debate surrounding the role of midazolam in executions; the problems associated with using the drug have been persuasively argued elsewhere. Nor does it question the soundness of the Glossip Court’s “alternative method of execution” requirement. Rather, this Article’s proposed reform is a constitutionally acceptable alternative that meets the Glossip Court’s standard, rendering moot—at least for the purposes of the following discussion—very real concerns regarding the validity of that dictate. Part I of this Article pinpoints several areas where the Glossip Court goes wrong in glaringly inaccurate or misleading ...


Newsroom: Nason '05 Cited By U.S. Supreme Court, Roger Williams University School Of Law Jun 2015

Newsroom: Nason '05 Cited By U.S. Supreme Court, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


David Baldus And The Legacy Of Mccleskey V. Kemp, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2012

David Baldus And The Legacy Of Mccleskey V. Kemp, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

The first major empirical challenge to racial discrimination in the use of the death penalty in the United States was presented in federal court in the case of William L. Maxwell, who was sentenced to death in Arkansas in 1962 for the crime of rape.1 It was based on a landmark study by Marvin Wolfgang, a distinguished criminologist who had collected data on some 3000 rape convictions from 1945 through 1965 in selected counties across eleven southern states.2 He found that black men who were convicted of rape were seven times more likely to be sentenced to death ...


Minority Practice, Majority's Burden: The Death Penalty Today, James S. Liebman, Peter Clarke Jan 2011

Minority Practice, Majority's Burden: The Death Penalty Today, James S. Liebman, Peter Clarke

Faculty Scholarship

Although supported in principle by two-thirds of the public and even more of the States, capital punishment in the United States is a minority practice when the actual death-sentencing practices of the nation's 3000-plus counties and their populations are considered This feature of American capital punishment has been present for decades, has become more pronounced recently, and is especially clear when death sentences, which are merely infrequent, are distinguished from executions, which are exceedingly rare.

The first question this Article asks is what forces account for the death-proneness of a minority of American communities? The answer to that question ...


Performing Discretion Or Performing Discrimination: Race, Ritual, And Peremptory Challenges In Capital Jury Selection, Melynda J. Price Jan 2009

Performing Discretion Or Performing Discrimination: Race, Ritual, And Peremptory Challenges In Capital Jury Selection, Melynda J. Price

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Research shows the mere presence of Blacks on capital juries-- on the rare occasions they are seated--can mean the difference between life and death. Peremptory challenges are the primary method to remove these pivotal participants. Batson v. Kentucky developed hearings as an immediate remedy for the unconstitutional removal of jurors through racially motivated peremptory challenges. These proceedings have become rituals that sanction continued bias in the jury selection process and ultimately affect the outcome of capital trials. This Article deconstructs the role of the Batson ritual in legitimating the removal of African American jurors. These perfunctory hearings fail to meaningfully ...


The Abolition Of The Death Penalty In New Jersey And Its Impact On Our Nation's "Evolving Standards Of Decency", Aaron Scherzer Jan 2009

The Abolition Of The Death Penalty In New Jersey And Its Impact On Our Nation's "Evolving Standards Of Decency", Aaron Scherzer

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

In 2007, New Jersey became the first state in over forty years to abolish the death penalty legislatively. Twenty-five years earlier, in 1982, New Jersey had followed a state-level trend by reinstating its death penalty. However, during the twenty-five years between reinstatement and abolition, New Jersey did not conduct a single execution. Instead, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed numerous death penalty cases and consistently narrowed the class of cases eligible for the death penalty. This Note posits that the supreme court's narrowing of eligible cases was one of the factors that prevented executions from taking place in New ...


Foreword: The Perpetual Controversy, Christopher M. Johnson Mar 2008

Foreword: The Perpetual Controversy, Christopher M. Johnson

The University of New Hampshire Law Review

[Excerpt] “Two qualities of American capital punishment perhaps explain its ability to command the attention of the Court, year by year, decade after decade. First, an exceptionally talented and dedicated specialist capital defense bar continually mounts new challenges to the institution of the death penalty. This year, for example, we await a decision from the Supreme Court on the claim that the lethal injection method of execution violates the cruel and unusual punishments clause of the Constitution. Never before has the Supreme Court confronted this claim; indeed, not for more than a hundred years has the Supreme Court addressed a ...


The Emerging Death Penalty Jurisprudence Of The Roberts Court, Kenneth C. Haas Mar 2008

The Emerging Death Penalty Jurisprudence Of The Roberts Court, Kenneth C. Haas

The University of New Hampshire Law Review

[Excerpt] “In 1976, four years after finding the nation’s death penalty laws to be constitutionally flawed, the U.S. Supreme Court established the parameters of modern American death penalty jurisprudence. Since then the Court has gone through several phases. The Court proceeded cautiously from 1977 to 1982, limiting the death penalty to those who committed murder in a manner deemed especially heinous and despicable by judges and juries, requiring even-handedness and consistency in capital sentencing, and insisting that sentencing authorities examine the individual characteristics of each offender and the particular circumstances of his crime. From 1983 to 2001, however ...


The Abolitionist’S Dilemma: Establishing The Standards For The Evolving Standards Of Decency, Dwight Aarons Mar 2008

The Abolitionist’S Dilemma: Establishing The Standards For The Evolving Standards Of Decency, Dwight Aarons

The University of New Hampshire Law Review

[Excerpt] “For those who believe that the death penalty should be declared unconstitutional and that the U.S. Supreme Court is the institution that should make that declaration, these are interesting times. On one hand, the Rehnquist Court, which had previously not been a reliable friend of criminal defendants, in 2002, ruled that it was unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded defendants, and in 2005 it came to the same conclusion as to defendants who committed a capital crime before his or her eighteenth birthday. On the other hand, close scrutiny of these opinions evidences that the Court all but casts ...


Furman'S Mythical Mandate, Scott W. Howe May 2007

Furman'S Mythical Mandate, Scott W. Howe

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article argues for the rescue and reform of Supreme Court doctrine regulating capital sentencing trials under the Eighth Amendment. Many legal commentators, both liberal and conservative, including several members of the Supreme Court, have concluded that the Court's regulation of capital sentencing trials is a disaster. The repeated criticisms rest on a commonly accepted view about a principal goal of capital sentencing regulation. The prevailing account, fueled by the rhetoric of the Justices, stems from the notion that Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 208 (1972), revealed a mandate of consistency in the use of the death penalty ...


Stevens's Ratchet: When The Court Should Decide Not To Decide, Joel A. Flaxman Jan 2006

Stevens's Ratchet: When The Court Should Decide Not To Decide, Joel A. Flaxman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Hidden underneath the racy death penalty issues in Kansas v. Marsh lurks a seemingly dull procedural issue addressed only in separate opinions by Justices Stevens and Scalia: whether the Court should have heard the case in the first place. As he did in three cases from the Court’s 2005 term, Justice Stevens argued in Marsh that the Court has no legitimate interest in reviewing state court decisions that overprotect federal constitutional rights. Instead, the Supreme Court should exercise its certiorari power to tip the scales against states and in favor of individuals. Granting certiorari in Marsh, Stevens argued, was ...


Putting The Guesswork Back Into Capital Sentencing, Sean D. O'Brien Jan 2006

Putting The Guesswork Back Into Capital Sentencing, Sean D. O'Brien

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court deemed it “incon-testable” that a death sentence is cruel and unusual if inflicted “by reason of [the defendant’s] race, religion, wealth, social position, or class, or if it is imposed under a procedure that gives room for the play of such prejudices.” Arbitrary and discriminatory patterns in capital sentencing moved the Court to strike down death penalty statutes that required judges or juries to cast thumbs-up or thumbs-down verdicts against offenders found guilty of capi-tal crimes. The issue of innocence was barely a footnote in Furman; the Court’s concerns ...


The Revolution Enters The Court: The Constitutional Significance Of Wrongful Convictions In Contemporary Constitutional Regulation Of The Death Penalty, Jordan Steiker Jan 2006

The Revolution Enters The Court: The Constitutional Significance Of Wrongful Convictions In Contemporary Constitutional Regulation Of The Death Penalty, Jordan Steiker

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Over the last decade, the most important events in American death pen-alty law have occurred outside the courts. The discovery of numerous wrongfully convicted death-sentenced inmates in Illinois led to the most substantial reflection on the American death penalty system since the late 1960s and early 1970s. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan, a Republi-can, first declared a moratorium on executions in 2000 and eventually commuted all 167 inmates on Illinois’s death row in 2003. The events in Illinois reverberated nationwide. Almost overnight, state legislative agendas shifted from expanding or maintaining the prevailing reach of the death penalty to studying ...


The High Court Remains As Divided As Ever Over The Death Penalty, George H. Kendall Jan 2006

The High Court Remains As Divided As Ever Over The Death Penalty, George H. Kendall

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

More than three decades ago, in Furman v. Georgia, a sharply divided Supreme Court struck down all existing capital punishment schemes be-cause the results they generated were arbitrary, discriminatory, and unreasoned. No member of that Court remains on the Court today, and the Court has grown increasingly conservative ever since. Nevertheless, impor-tant questions concerning the administration of capital punishment continue to wrought deep divisions within the Court, for instance in determining whether racial bias influences the system, in determining the sufficiency of new evidence of innocence to justify review of a defaulted claim in habeas corpus proceedings, in determining a ...


Legitimizing Error, Rebecca E. Woodman Jan 2006

Legitimizing Error, Rebecca E. Woodman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Since Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court has sought to harmonize competing constitutional demands under Eighth Amendment rules regulat-ing the two-step eligibility and selection stages of the capital decision-making process. Furman’s demand for rationality and consistency requires that, at the eligibility stage, the sentencer’s discretion be limited and guided by clear and objective fact-based standards that rationally narrow the class of death-eligible defendants. The selection stage requires a determination of whether a specific death-eligible defendant actually deserves that punish-ment, as distinguished from other death-eligible defendants. Here, fundamental fairness and respect for the uniqueness of the individual are the ...


Souter Passant, Scalia Rampant: Combat In The Marsh, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2006

Souter Passant, Scalia Rampant: Combat In The Marsh, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

Kansas law provides that unless a capital sentencing jury concludes that the mitigating factors that apply to the defendant’s crime outweigh the aggravating factors, it must sentence the defendant to death. The Kansas Supreme Court held that this law violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments because it “impermissibly mandates the death penalty when the jury finds that the mitigating and aggravating circumstances are in equipoise.” On June 26, in Kansas v. Marsh, the Supreme Court reversed in a 5 to 4 opinion by Justice Thomas.


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 ...


Still Unfair, Still Arbitrary - But Do We Care?, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2000

Still Unfair, Still Arbitrary - But Do We Care?, Samuel R. Gross

Other Publications

Welcome. It is a pleasure to see everybody at this bright and cheery hour of the morning. My assignment is to try to give an overview of the status of the death penalty in America at the beginning of the twenty-first century. I will try to put that in the context of how the death penalty was viewed thirty years ago, or more, and maybe that will tell us something about how the death penalty will be viewed thirty or forty years from now.


The Limits Of Legal Language: Decisionmaking In Capital Cases, Jordan M. Steiker Aug 1996

The Limits Of Legal Language: Decisionmaking In Capital Cases, Jordan M. Steiker

Michigan Law Review

To make the case for the proposed changes, I will first describe briefly in Parts I and II the structure of pre- and post-Furman capital decisiorurtaking and the weaknesses of those approaches. I then will set forth in Part III the specific rationales for each proposed reform.

The scheme I propose raises a significant constitutional question. Can the death penalty be retained as a punishment if we abandon the pretense of providing meaningful guidance through detailed sentencing instructions? Would the reestablishment of relatively unstructured penalty phase deliberations similar to, but also importantly different from, those characteristic of pre-Furman ...


Legitimating Death, Louis D. Bilionis Jun 1993

Legitimating Death, Louis D. Bilionis

Michigan Law Review

This article arrives at the surprising conclusion that a meaningful Eighth Amendment death penalty jurisprudence lives on, that it is a quite intelligible jurisprudence, and that it is driven by a coherent methodology with firm roots in the traditions of constitutional adjudication.

To reach that conclusion, it is helpful first to have some sense of what the Supreme Court has been doing in the death penalty area lately. Part I thus presents a topical review of the Court's recent work, identifying the themes that now dominate, pointing out the concerns those themes raise, and asking whether any sense can ...


Capital Punishment's Future, Welsh S. White May 1993

Capital Punishment's Future, Welsh S. White

Michigan Law Review

A Review of Capital Punishment in America by Raymond Paternoster


To Tell What We Know Or Wait For Godot?, Phoebe C. Ellsworth Jan 1991

To Tell What We Know Or Wait For Godot?, Phoebe C. Ellsworth

Articles

Professor Elliott raises two questions about the American Psychological Association's practice of submitting amicus briefs to the courts. First, are our data sufficiently valid, consistent, and generalizable to be applicable to the real world issues? Second, are amicus briefs adequate to communicate scientific findings? The first of these is not a general question, but must be addressed anew each time the Association considers a new issue. An evaluation of the quality and sufficiency of scientific knowledge about racial discrimination, for example, tells us nothing at all about the quality and sufficiency of scientific knowledge about sexual abuse. "Are the ...