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Jury

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

2006

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

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

Faculty Works

In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court deemed it "incontestable" 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 capital crimes. The issue of innocence was barely a footnote in Furman; the Court's concerns focused on …