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The Death Penalty As Delineated By The Old Testament: From Adam And Eve To Cain And Abel To Noah And The Flood To Abraham And Sodom To Moses And The Ten Commandments, Biblical Passages Trace The Roots For How Modern Society Deals With The Execution Of Killers, Robert Blecker Nov 2004

The Death Penalty As Delineated By The Old Testament: From Adam And Eve To Cain And Abel To Noah And The Flood To Abraham And Sodom To Moses And The Ten Commandments, Biblical Passages Trace The Roots For How Modern Society Deals With The Execution Of Killers, Robert Blecker

Other Publications

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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 ...


Killing The Willing: "Volunteers," Suicide And Competency, John H. Blume Sep 2004

Killing The Willing: "Volunteers," Suicide And Competency, John H. Blume

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Of the 822 executions, in the modern era of capital punishment, 106 involved volunteers, or inmates who chose to waive their appeals and permit the death sentence to be carried out. The debate about volunteers, although intense, has primarily been polemic. Those who wish to curtail a death row inmate’s ability to waive his appeals refer to volunteer cases as nothing more than “state assisted suicide;” advocates of permitting inmates to choose execution reject the suicide label, instead focusing on respect for a death row inmate’s right to choose whether to accept his punishment.

This article takes a ...


Implicit Racial Attitudes Of Death Penalty Lawyers, Theodore Eisenberg, Sheri Lynn Johnson Jul 2004

Implicit Racial Attitudes Of Death Penalty Lawyers, Theodore Eisenberg, Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Defense attorneys commonly suspect that the defendant's race plays a role in prosecutors' decisions to seek the death penalty, especially when the victim of the crime was white. When the defendant is convicted of the crime and sentenced to death, it is equally common for such attorneys to question the racial attitudes of the jury. These suspicions are not merely partisan conjectures; ample historical, statistical, and anecdotal evidence supports the inference that race matters in capital cases. Even the General Accounting Office of the United States concludes as much. Despite McCleskey v. Kemp, in which the United States Supreme ...


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 ...


Is It Wrong To Commute Death Row? Retribution, Atonement, And Mercy, Stephen P. Garvey May 2004

Is It Wrong To Commute Death Row? Retribution, Atonement, And Mercy, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Is it a morally permissible exercise of mercy for a governor to commute the death sentences of everyone on a state's death row, as Governor Ryan recently did in Illinois? I distinguish three different theories of mercy. The first two theories locate mercy within a theory of punishment as retribution. The first theory treats mercy as a means by which to achieve equity. As such, this theory is not really a theory of mercy; it is instead a theory of justice. The second theory treats mercy as a genuine virtue independent of justice. In particular, mercy is understood as ...


Prosecutorial Misconduct In Capital Cases In The Commonwealth Of Kentucky: A Research Study 1976-2000, Roberta M. Harding, Bankole Thompson Apr 2004

Prosecutorial Misconduct In Capital Cases In The Commonwealth Of Kentucky: A Research Study 1976-2000, Roberta M. Harding, Bankole Thompson

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

The prosecutor wields tremendous power within the American criminal justice system. When that power is misused-particularly in capital cases-tremendous injustices are perpetrated. Yet, occurrences of prosecutorial misconduct seem to occur with distressing regularity. An exhaustive study covering appeals from 1973-95 revealed that two-thirds of overturned death penalties in the United States resulted from overzealous police and prosecutors who withheld exculpatory evidence. Our study covered 55 Kentucky cases from 1976-2000 and found evidence of prosecutorial misconduct in nearly one-half of them, often with several instances per case.


Explaining Death Row's Population And Racial Composition, John H. Blume, Theodore Eisenberg, Martin T. Wells Mar 2004

Explaining Death Row's Population And Racial Composition, John H. Blume, Theodore Eisenberg, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Twenty-three years of murder and death sentence data show how murder demographics help explain death row populations. Nevada and Oklahoma are the most death-prone states; Texas's death sentence rate is below the national mean. Accounting for the race of murderers establishes that black representation on death row is lower than black representation in the population of murder offenders. This disproportion results from reluctance to seek or impose death in black defendant-black victim cases, which more than offsets eagerness to seek and impose death in black defendant-white victim cases. Death sentence rates in black defendant-white victim cases far exceed those ...


The Botched Hanging Of William Williams: How Too Much Rope And Minnesota’S Newspapers Brought An End To The Death Penalty In Minnesota, John Bessler Mar 2004

The Botched Hanging Of William Williams: How Too Much Rope And Minnesota’S Newspapers Brought An End To The Death Penalty In Minnesota, John Bessler

All Faculty Scholarship

This article describes Minnesota's last state-sanctioned execution: that of William Williams, who was hanged in 1906 in the basement of the Ramsey County Jail. Convicted of killing a teenage boy, Williams was tried on murder charges in 1905 and was put to death in February of the following year. Because the county sheriff miscalculated the length of the rope, the hanging was botched, with Williams hitting the floor when the trap door was opened. Three deputies, standing on the scaffold, thereafter seized the rope and forcibly pulled it up until Williams - fourteen and half minutes later - died by strangulation ...


How Different Is Death? Jury Sentencing In Capital And Non-Capital Cases Compared, Nancy J. King Jan 2004

How Different Is Death? Jury Sentencing In Capital And Non-Capital Cases Compared, Nancy J. King

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Drawing upon a recent study of felony jury sentencing in Kentucky, Virginia, and Arkansas, this essay highlights some of the similarities and differences between jury sentencing in capital cases and jury sentencing in non-capital cases. Unlike jury sentencing in capital cases, jury sentencing in non-capital cases includes functional differentials in judge and jury options for sentencing, and fewer controls on arbitrary decision-making. Jury sentencing in both contexts shares the potential for reluctance on the part of elected judges to reduce jury sentences, information gaps on the part of jurors in setting sentences, and, above all, service as a tool in ...


Not To Decide Is To Decide: The U.S. Supreme Court's Thirty-Year Struggle With One Case About Competency To Waive Death Penalty Appeals, Phyllis L. Crocker Jan 2004

Not To Decide Is To Decide: The U.S. Supreme Court's Thirty-Year Struggle With One Case About Competency To Waive Death Penalty Appeals, Phyllis L. Crocker

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Rees v. Peyton, a case that had been on its docket since 1965. Rees was a death penalty case in which the petitioner sought to withdraw his petition for writ of certiorari so that he could be executed. The Court stayed the proceedings after Rees was found incompetent to waive his appeal, but the Court did not dismiss the case until after Rees died of natural causes. Rees pended in the Court during the terms of three Chief Justices. Even though the Court underwent major changes in personnel and philosophy during those ...