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NCJ Number: 140804 Find in a Library
Title: Clemons v. Mississippi: Expanding the Role of State Appellate Courts in Capital Punishment Cases
Journal: New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement  Volume:18  Issue:1-2  Dated:(Winter-Summer 1992)  Pages:183-202
Author(s): D M Cabral
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 20
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: By holding the process of appellate reweighing of the mitigating and aggravating evidence in sentencing for capital offenses to be constitutionally permissible, the U.S. Supreme Court in Clemons v. Mississippi (1990) has given the State appellate courts the power to determine for themselves whether a defendant found guilty of a capital offense should be put to death or imprisoned for life.
Abstract: Appellate courts in States with weighing-type death penalty statutes have been using appellate reweighing for some time. Until Clemons, however, this reweighing was limited in practice to an examination of whether the evidence presented in the sentencing phase was enough for the sentencer to have imposed the death penalty. In order for an appellate court to make the determination of whether or not the sentencing authority's decision to impose the death penalty was justified, the appellate court had to reweigh the aggravating and mitigating factors and, in effect, make a sentencing decision for itself. The effect of Clemons v. Mississippi is not that appellate courts can now engage in reweighing mitigating and aggravating circumstances; rather, the effect of "Clemons" is that where appellate courts were once restricted to only using reweighing to vacate death sentences, they may now also use it to uphold death sentences. The decision expands the role that State appellate courts play in the death penalty decision process. 162 footnotes
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Appeal procedures; Appellate courts; Sentencing factors; US Supreme Court decisions
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