To remedy the “unbridled discretion” the Supreme Court used to abolish the death penalty states passed what statutes to make sure a trial passed in which two phases?
First phase: jury decides guilt or innocence
Second phase: sentencing where aggravating and mitigating factors are presented
In what years was the death penalty abolished by the Supreme Court on grounds of cruel and unusual punishment in Furman v Georgia until Gregg v Georgia?
Elements of the crime such as killing in an especially brutal or heinous manner that makes the defendant more like to receive the DP
Elements of the defendant’s background or the crime such as experiencing mental illness or acting under duress at the time of the offense, that makes life imprisonment the more appropriate verdict
What is the main way death penalty convicts have been exonerated?
What are the arguments against the Death Penalty?
Innocence - 179 since 1973 have been exonerated
Racial and gender inequality
Mental illness - Atkins v. Oklahoma, 2002 ~ U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute MR. Estimated that 35 MR inmates executed since 1976 (PDIC, 2001).
What are arguments for the death penalty?
Moral perspectives of retribution
Accomplishes General and Specific Deterrence
The ultimate incapacitation
What is the problem about deterrence and its relation to the DP?
Studies have shown it does not affect the rate of violent crimes
Theorists argues that executions increase violent crime by sending the message that it is acceptable to kill those who’ve wronged us. No stronger than the data in favor of deterrence
What proportion of states do permit the DP?
33 States have death penalty + Government + US Military and 17 do NOT permit it
Where have more than one third of all executions in the US taken place in since 1977?
Texas: 358 currently with 445 executions leading the nation
Who has greater chances of the DP those who kill White or those who kill Blacks?
Those who kill Whites. Hispanics 3x and Blacks 4x as likely to be sentenced
When jurors are empaneled to serve on cases in which the death penalty is being sought, they are required to answer voir dire questions about their attitudes toward capital punishment. These jurors do not hold strong scruples or reservations about its use
In capital cases do jurors receive a set of complex instructions that outlines their duties and explain how to evaluate aggravating and mitigating circumstances to reach a sentencing decision?
Jurors understanding of legal concepts
Jurors ability to know what to do Ina order to reach a sentencing decision
Who are populations the Supreme Court has deemed the DP as unconstitutional?
Mentally ill, under 18, limited mental abilities may not be fully culpable
What is the first requirement under TPC 19.03 for Capital Punishment?
Murders a peace officer or fireman acting in the lawful duty & who the person knows is a peace officer;
What is the second requirement under TPC 19.03 for Capital Punishment?
Intentionally commits murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction or terroristic threat;
What is the third requirement under TPC 19.03 for Capital Punishment?
Murders for remuneration or promise of remuneration or employs another to commit murder for remuneration or promise of remuneration;
What is the fourth, fifth, and sixth requirement under TPC 19.03 for Capital Punishment?
Murders while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;5. while in penal institution, murders another:
* Employed in operation of penal institution; or * With intent to establish, maintain, participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination; 6. the person: * While incarcerated for an offense under this section or Section 19.02, murders another, or * While serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Section 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;
What is the seventh requirement under TPC 19.03 for Capital Punishment?
- The person murders 1 more than 1 person
- During same criminal transaction, or
- During different criminal transactions but murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct, or
What is the eighth requirement under TPC 19.03 for Capital Punishment?
person murders an individual < 6 years of age.
- whether there is a probability that defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society; and
- Whether defendant actually caused the death of the deceased or did not but intend to kill the deceased or another or anticipated that a human life would be taken.
If Jurors answer Qs 1 & 2 “yes” and “no” for future dangerousness what standard of evidence must they reach? How many are required to say yes? Or no?
State must prove each issue “beyond a reasonable doubt”
Can answer “yes” only by unanimous vote
Can answer “no” only if ≥ 10 jurors agree
No need for agreement on what particular evidence supports a negative answer. Don’t have to say why
If jury answered “special issues” Qs 1 & 2 “yes”, then answers:
Whether, taking into consideration all of the evidence … there is a sufficient mitigating circumstance(s) to warrant a sentence of life imprisonment rather than death.
- “life sentence” in TX now means LIFE (in TDCJ-ID) without possibility of parole/release.
What is question 3 for jurors to answer if sentenced for capital punishment?
Jury can learn now that mitigating evidence can be considered “evidence that a juror might regard as reducing “evidence that a juror might regard as reducing the defendant’s moral blameworthiness”
What are the three conclusions that jurors can make when a defendant is sentenced to DP?
If Qs 1 &2 “yes” and negative answer to Q3 → death
If “no” to either Q 1 or 2 or affirmative to Q3 → life sentence
If unable to answer any Q as necessary → life sentence
How many women have been on death row? How many have been executed?
53 Women on death row as of 06/30/09 (1.6% of population); 11 executed since 1976.
What are the percentages of executed offenders for ethnicities and their victims?
Those Executed: White - 56% Black - 35% Hispanic – 7% Other – 2% About 80% of murder victims in cases resulting in execution are white, even though nationally only 50% of murder victims generally are white.
What is the estimated cost of the sentencing the death penalty in Texas?
In Texas, death penalty cases cost average of $2.3 M.
Woodson v. North Carolina
Concept of “moral culpability” or per U.S. Supreme Court in Woodson v. North Carolina (1976) DP mandatory for all convicted 1st degree murderers
Fundamental to psychology: humans & their choices are shaped & influenced , developmental, psychological, interpersonal, educational, cultural, & community histories. Thus, “blameworthiness” can vary depending on what factors and experiences shaped and influenced that choice
Lockett v. Ohio
Mitgation ~ Lockett v. Ohio (1978) have at least one aggravating factor then mitigation factors can be looked at
What are some tasks a forensic psychologist do in a DP evaluation?
Parameters ~ typically: (1) relevant aggravating & mitigating factors present & (2) likelihood of future violence; MH most appropriate to mitigation & violence risk
Mental State at Time of Offense ~ typical MSO exam
Violence Risk Assessment
Common Errors as Applies to Capital Sentencing
Past patterns in similar context
Base rate anchors
Risk management adjustments
What’s one reason to assess a capital case for appeals?
Competence To Waive Appeals - unless you stop the attorneys will file appeal
What’s one reason for assessment for a death sentence? The client must answer two questions
Competence To Be Executed - 1.) know you are going to die 2.) and why
Jurek v. Texas (1976)
Jury must answer the special 3 questions to determine DP or Life Imprisonment beyond a reasonable doubt
Furman v. George (1972)
ruled on the requirement for a degree of consistency in the application of the death penalty.
Branch v. Texas (1972)
Along with Furman decision of unconstitutionality and violating 8th amendment in Texas trial convicting a man for rape sentencing him to DP but was reversed
Gregg v. Georgia (1977)
reaffirmed the United States Supreme Court’s acceptance of the use of the death penalty in the United States, upholding, in particular, the death sentence imposed on Troy Leon Gregg.
Coker v. Georgia (1977)
death penalty can’t be used on a rape charge
Eddings v. Oklahoma (1982)
without “the type of individualized consideration of mitigating factors they reversed the DP decision
Barefoot v. Estelle (1983)
admissibility of clinical opinions given by two psychiatrists hired by the prosecution in answer to hypothetical questions regarding the defendant’s future dangerousness
Skipper v. South Carolina (1986)
can’t say you’ve changed while in death row
Ford v. Wainwright (1986)
insane cannot be executed so competency evaluations are mandatory
Stanford v. Kentucky (1989)
DP not give to 15 and below 16+ at the time of crime
Penry v. Lynaugh (1989)
first trial let a mentally retarded man sentence to DP but second trial after saying unconstitutional since did not let mitigating factor of MR in