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Furman'S Legacy: New Challenges To The Overbreadth Of Capital Punishment, Jeffrey A. Fagan Jan 2020

Furman'S Legacy: New Challenges To The Overbreadth Of Capital Punishment, Jeffrey A. Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

A 2018 decision in the Arizona Supreme Court raised new strong claims that the death penalty in the U.S. has become a "fatal lottery," with critical implications for its constitutionality and its future in American criminal law. In the case, Hidalgo v. Arizona, the defense provided preliminary evidence that over the past twenty years, nearly 98% of all first- and second-degree murder defendants in Maricopa County-the state's largest county and location of the nation's fifth largest city-were death-eligible. The Arizona Supreme Court conceded this point even as it rejected Mr. Hidalgo's appeal. What the Arizona Supreme ...


The State Of The Death Penalty, Ankur Desai, Brandon L. Garrett Jan 2019

The State Of The Death Penalty, Ankur Desai, Brandon L. Garrett

Faculty Scholarship

The death penalty is in decline in America and most death penalty states do not regularly impose death sentences. In 2016 and 2017, states reached modern lows in imposed death sentences, with just thirty-one defendants sentenced to death in 2016 and thirty-nine in 2017, as compared with over three hundred per year in the 1990s. In 2016, only thirteen states imposed death sentences, and in 2017, fourteen did so, although thirty-one states retain the death penalty. What explains this remarkable and quite unexpected trend? In this Article, we present new analysis of state-level legislative changes that might have been expected ...


Execution Methods In A Nutshell, Deborah W. Denno Jan 2018

Execution Methods In A Nutshell, Deborah W. Denno

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Police, Race, And The Production Of Capital Homicides, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Amanda Geller Jan 2018

Police, Race, And The Production Of Capital Homicides, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Amanda Geller

Faculty Scholarship

Racial disparities in capital punishment have been well documented for decades. Over 50 studies have shown that Black defendants more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with capital-eligible crimes, to be convicted and sentenced to death. Racial disparities in charging and sentencing in capital-eligible homicides are the largest for the small number of cases where black defendants murder white victims compared to within-race killings, or where whites murder black or other ethnic minority victims. These patterns are robust to rich controls for non-racial characteristics and state sentencing guidelines. This article backs up the research on racial disparities to ...


Capital Jurors In An Era Of Death Penalty Decline, Brandon L. Garrett, Daniel Krauss, Nicholas Scurich Jan 2017

Capital Jurors In An Era Of Death Penalty Decline, Brandon L. Garrett, Daniel Krauss, Nicholas Scurich

Faculty Scholarship

The state of public opinion regarding the death penalty has not experienced such flux since the late 1960s. Death sentences and executions have reached their lowest annual numbers since the early 1970s and today, the public appears fairly evenly split in its views on the death penalty. In this Essay, we explore, first, whether these changes in public opinion mean that fewer people will be qualified to serve on death penalty trials as jurors, and second, whether potential jurors are affected by changes in the practice of the death penalty. We conducted surveys of persons reporting for jury duty at ...


The American Death Penalty Decline, Brandon L. Garrett, Alexander Jakubow, Ankur Desai Jan 2017

The American Death Penalty Decline, Brandon L. Garrett, Alexander Jakubow, Ankur Desai

Faculty Scholarship

American death sentences have both declined and become concentrated in a small group of counties. In his dissenting opinion in Glossip v. Gross in 2014, Justice Stephen Breyer highlighted how from 2004 to 2006, "just 29 counties (fewer than 1% of counties in the country) accounted for approximately half of all death sentences imposed nationwide." That decline has become more dramatic. In 2015, fifty-one defendants were sentenced to death in thirty-eight counties. In 2016, thirty-one defendants were sentenced to death in twenty-eight counties. In the mid-1990s, by way of contrast, over 300 people were sentenced to death in as many ...


The Decline Of The Virginia (And American) Death Penalty, Brandon L. Garrett Jan 2017

The Decline Of The Virginia (And American) Death Penalty, Brandon L. Garrett

Faculty Scholarship

The American death penalty is disappearing. Death sentences and executions have reached the lowest levels seen in three decades. Even the states formerly most aggressive in pursuit of death sentences have seen death sentences steadily decline. Take Virginia, which has the highest rate of executions of any death penalty state, and which has executed the third highest number of prisoners since the 1970s. How times have changed. There has not been a new death sentence in Virginia since 2011. Only seven counties have imposed death sentences in the past decade in Virginia. There are now two or fewer trials a ...


The Death Penalty And The Fifth Amendment, Joseph Blocher Jan 2016

The Death Penalty And The Fifth Amendment, Joseph Blocher

Faculty Scholarship

Can the Supreme Court find unconstitutional something that the text of the Constitution “contemplates”? If the Bill of Rights mentions a punishment, does that make it a “permissible legislative choice” immune to independent constitutional challenges?

Recent developments have given new hope to those seeking constitutional abolition of the death penalty. But some supporters of the death penalty continue to argue, as they have since Furman v. Georgia, that the death penalty must be constitutional because the Fifth Amendment explicitly contemplates it. The appeal of this argument is obvious, but its strength is largely superficial, and is also mostly irrelevant to ...


Three Essays In Criminal Justice, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2015

Three Essays In Criminal Justice, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

How could the New York Times call the grand jury’s decision to no bill the indictment against officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a “verdict”? How could federal appellate judges call it a “procedural shortcut” when a state judge, in a death penalty case, signs the state attorney general’s proposed judicial opinion without even striking the word “proposed” or reviewing the full opinion? What do these incidents tell us about contemporary criminal justice? These essays explore these puzzles. The first, “Verdict and Illusion,” begins to sketch the role of illusions in justice. The second, “A Singe Voice of ...


The New Habeas Corpus In Death Penalty Cases, Larry Yackle Aug 2014

The New Habeas Corpus In Death Penalty Cases, Larry Yackle

Faculty Scholarship

This article offers the first systematic examination of Chapter 154, United States Code, which establishes new statutory arrangements for cases in which state prisoners under sentence of death file federal habeas corpus petitions challenging their convictions or sentences. Chapter 154 was enacted as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Yet its provisions were made applicable only in capital cases arising from states that established qualifying schemes for providing indigent death row prisoners with counsel in state postconviction proceedings. No state’s system for supplying lawyers in state court won approval and, in consequence, Chapter 154 ...


The Hanging Judge By Michael A. Ponsor -- A Book Review: Capital Punishment -- Is The Death Penalty Worth The Price?, Beth D. Cohen, Pat K. Newcombe Jan 2014

The Hanging Judge By Michael A. Ponsor -- A Book Review: Capital Punishment -- Is The Death Penalty Worth The Price?, Beth D. Cohen, Pat K. Newcombe

Faculty Scholarship

In 2000-2001, Judge Ponsor presided over the first death penalty case in Massachusetts in nearly 50 years, United States v. Gilbert. Gilbert’s trial marked only the third time that a federal capital case had gone to trial in a state without the death penalty. According to Ponsor, he felt a particularly heavy responsibility to ensure that both the government and the defense got a fair trial. In fact, in 2001, after the conclusion of the trial, Ponsor did something somewhat unusual for a judge; he wrote a lengthy editorial about the death penalty. He wrote: “[t]he simple question ...


Missing Mcveigh, Michael E. Tigar Jan 2014

Missing Mcveigh, Michael E. Tigar

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Public Opinion And The Abolition Or Retention Of The Death Penalty Why Is The United States Different?, Sara Sun Beale Jan 2014

Public Opinion And The Abolition Or Retention Of The Death Penalty Why Is The United States Different?, Sara Sun Beale

Faculty Scholarship

What explains the difference between the United States and the many other countries that have abolished capital punishment? Because the United States and many other nations that have abolished the death penalty are democracies, there seems to be an obvious answer: abolition or retention reflects the preferences of the electorate. According to this view, the U.S. electorate is simply more punitive, and the question becomes explaining the difference in national attitudes. There is some truth to this explanation. As I have argued elsewhere, the U.S. public generally does favor punitive criminal justice policies. But that cannot be the ...


Brief Of Public Law Scholars As Amici Curiae In Support Of Petitioner, Ernest A. Young Jan 2014

Brief Of Public Law Scholars As Amici Curiae In Support Of Petitioner, Ernest A. Young

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Book Review: American Jericho: A Book Review Of The Hanging Judge By Michael A. Ponsor, Giovanna Shay Jan 2014

Book Review: American Jericho: A Book Review Of The Hanging Judge By Michael A. Ponsor, Giovanna Shay

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Beccaria's On Crimes And Punishments: A Mirror On The History Of The Foundations Of Modern Criminal Law, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2013

Beccaria's On Crimes And Punishments: A Mirror On The History Of The Foundations Of Modern Criminal Law, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Beccaria’s treatise "On Crimes and Punishments" (1764) has become a placeholder for the classical school of thought in criminology, for deterrence-based public policy, for death penalty abolitionism, and for liberal ideals of legality and the rule of law. A source of inspiration for Bentham and Blackstone, an object of praise for Voltaire and the Philosophies, a target of pointed critiques by Kant and Hegel, the subject of a genealogy by Foucault, the object of derision by the Physiocrats, rehabilitated and appropriated by the Chicago School of law and economics – these ricochets and reflections on Beccaria’s treatise reveal multiple ...


The North Carolina Racial Justice Act: An Essay On Substantive And Procedural Fairness In Death Penalty Litigation, Neil Vidmar Jan 2012

The North Carolina Racial Justice Act: An Essay On Substantive And Procedural Fairness In Death Penalty Litigation, Neil Vidmar

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Original Habeas Redux, Lee B. Kovarsky Jan 2011

Original Habeas Redux, Lee B. Kovarsky

Faculty Scholarship

This article explores what is perhaps the Supreme Court’s most exotic appellate power— its authority to issue (inaptly-named) “original” writs of habeas corpus. Although I have been working on Original Habeas Redux for some time, the Troy Davis case has recently thrust this topic into the national spotlight. In Davis (2009), the Supreme Court exercised, for the first time in over forty years, its power to transfer an original habeas petition to a district court for merits adjudication. Having collected and tabulated two decades of new data, I argue that Davis is not a blip in an otherwise constant ...


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 ...


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 ...


Lethal Discrimination 2: Repairing The Remedies For Racial Discrimination In Capital Sentencing, J. Thomas Sullivan Apr 2010

Lethal Discrimination 2: Repairing The Remedies For Racial Discrimination In Capital Sentencing, J. Thomas Sullivan

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Death Ineligibility And Habeas Corpus, Lee B. Kovarsky Jan 2010

Death Ineligibility And Habeas Corpus, Lee B. Kovarsky

Faculty Scholarship

I examine the interaction between what I call 'death ineligibility' challenges and the habeas writ. A death ineligibility claim alleges that a criminally-confined capital prisoner belongs to a category of offenders for which the Eighth Amendment forbids execution. By contrast, a 'crime innocence' claim alleges that, colloquially speaking, a capital prisoner 'wasn’t there, and didn’t do it.' In the last eight years, the Supreme Court has identified several new ineligibility categories, including mentally retarded offenders. Configured primarily to address crime innocence and procedural challenges, however, modern habeas law is poorly equipped to accommodate ineligibility claims. Death Ineligibility traces ...


Cruel And Unequal Punishment, Nita A. Farahany Jan 2009

Cruel And Unequal Punishment, Nita A. Farahany

Faculty Scholarship

This article argues Atkins and its progeny of categorical exemptions to the death penalty create and new and as of yet undiscovered interaction between the Eighth and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The United States Supreme Court, the legal academy and commentators have failed to consider the relationship between the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause and the Equal Protection Clause that the Court's new Eighth Amendment jurisprudence demands. This article puts forth a new synthesis of these two clauses, and demonstrates how the Court's new Eighth Amendment jurisprudence has remarkable Fourteenth Amendment implications. To see ...


The Deterrent Effect Of Death Penalty Eligibility: Evidence From The Adoption Of Child Murder Eligibility Factors, Michael D. Frakes, Matthew Harding Jan 2009

The Deterrent Effect Of Death Penalty Eligibility: Evidence From The Adoption Of Child Murder Eligibility Factors, Michael D. Frakes, Matthew Harding

Faculty Scholarship

We draw on within-state variations in the reach of capital punishment statutes between 1977 and 2004 to identify the deterrent effects associated with capital eligibility. Focusing on the most prevalent eligibility expansion, we estimate that the adoption of a child murder factor is associated with an approximately 20% reduction in the homicide rate of youth victims. Eligibility expansions may enhance deterrence by (1) paving the way for more executions and (2) providing prosecutors with greater leverage to secure enhanced non-capital sentences. While executions themselves are rare, this latter channel is likely to be triggered fairly regularly, providing a reasonable basis ...


Executions, Deterrence And Homicide: A Tale Of Two Cities, Franklin Zimring, Jeffrey Fagan, David T. Johnson Jan 2009

Executions, Deterrence And Homicide: A Tale Of Two Cities, Franklin Zimring, Jeffrey Fagan, David T. Johnson

Faculty Scholarship

We compare homicide rates in two quite similar cities with vastly different execution risks. Singapore had an execution rate close to 1 per million per year until an explosive twentyfold increase in 1994-95 and 1996-97 to a level that we show was probably the highest in the world. Then over the next 11 years, Singapore executions dropped by about 95%. Hong Kong, by contrast,has no executions all during the last generation and abolished capital punishment in 1993. Homicide levels and trends are remarkably similar in these two cities over the 35 years after 1973, with neither the surge in ...


Abolition In The U.S.A. By 2050: On Political Capital And Ordinary Acts Of Resistance, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2008

Abolition In The U.S.A. By 2050: On Political Capital And Ordinary Acts Of Resistance, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

The United States, like the larger international community, likely will tend toward greater abolition of the death penalty during the first half of the twenty-first century. A handful of individual states – states that have historically carried out few or no executions – probably will abolish capital punishment over the next twenty years, which will create political momentum and ultimately a federal constitutional ban on capital punishment in the United States. It is entirely reasonable to expect that, by the mid-twenty-first century, capital punishment will have the same status internationally as torture: an outlier practice, prohibited by international agreements and customary international ...


Bad Nature, Bad Nurture, And Testimony Regarding Maoa And Slc6a4 Genotyping In Murder Trials, Nita A. Farahany, William Bernet, Cindy L. Vnencak-Jones, Stephen A. Montgomery Jan 2007

Bad Nature, Bad Nurture, And Testimony Regarding Maoa And Slc6a4 Genotyping In Murder Trials, Nita A. Farahany, William Bernet, Cindy L. Vnencak-Jones, Stephen A. Montgomery

Faculty Scholarship

Recent research—in which subjects were studied longitudinally from childhood until adulthood—has started to clarify how a child’s environment and genetic makeup interact to create a violent adolescent or adult. For example, male subjects who were born with a particular allele of the monoamine oxidase A gene and also were maltreated as children had a much greater likelihood of manifesting violent antisocial behavior as adolescents and adults. Also, individuals who were born with particular alleles of the serotonin transporter gene and also experienced multiple stressful life events were more likely to manifest serious depression and suicidality. This research ...


Revisiting The Legal Link Between Genetics And Crime, Deborah W. Denno Jan 2006

Revisiting The Legal Link Between Genetics And Crime, Deborah W. Denno

Faculty Scholarship

Unwarranted constraints on the admissibility of genetics evidence in death penalty cases can undercut some defendants' efforts to fight their executions. For example, genetics evidence can help validate some traditionally accepted mitigating factors (such as certain psychiatric or behavioral disorders) that can otherwise be difficult for defendants to prove. By imposing unreasonable limitations on genetics arguments, the criminal justice system may be undermining the very principles and progressive thinking the cap on genetics evidence was originally intended to achieve. Part II of this article briefly reviews the facts and legal arguments in Mobley v. State. Part III addresses the primary ...


Capital Punishment And Capital Murder: Market Share And The Deterrent Effects Of The Death Penalty, Jeffrey Fagan, Franklin Zimring, Amanda Geller Jan 2006

Capital Punishment And Capital Murder: Market Share And The Deterrent Effects Of The Death Penalty, Jeffrey Fagan, Franklin Zimring, Amanda Geller

Faculty Scholarship

The modem debate on deterrence and capital punishment, now in its fourth decade, was launched by two closely timed events. The first was the 1976 United States Supreme Court decision in Gregg v. Georgia, which restored capital punishment after its brief constitutional ban following Furman v. Georgia in 1972. In 1975, Professor Isaac Ehrlich published an influential article saying that during the 1950s and 1960s, each execution averted eight murders. Although Ehrlich's article was a highly technical study prepared for an audience of economists, its influence went well beyond the economics profession. Ehrlich's work was cited favorably in ...


When Legislatures Delegate Death: The Troubling Paradox Behind State Uses Of Electocution And Lethal Injection And What It Says About Us, Deborah W. Denno Jan 2002

When Legislatures Delegate Death: The Troubling Paradox Behind State Uses Of Electocution And Lethal Injection And What It Says About Us, Deborah W. Denno

Faculty Scholarship

This article discusses the paradoxical motivations and problems behind legislative changes from one method of execution to the next, and particularly moves from electrocution to lethal injection. This article first examines the constitutionality of electrocution, contending that a modern Eighth Amendment analysis of a range of factors, such as legislative trends toward lethal injection, indicates that electrocution is cruel and unusual. It then provides an Eighth Amendment review of lethal injection, demonstrating that injection also involves unnecessary pain, the risk of such pain, and a loss of dignity. The article next presents the author's study of the most current ...