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NCJ Number: 162413 Find in a Library
Title: Life Under Wainwright v. Witt: Juror Dispositions and Death Qualification
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:20  Issue:2  Dated:(April 1996)  Pages:147-165
Author(s): R C Dillehay; M R Sandys
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 19
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: One of the purposes of this research was to determine whether questioning of prospective jurors in capital cases following the Witt doctrine would fail to identify and exclude automatic-death-penalty (ADP) jurors when those being questioned had previously served as felony jurors and would be expected to have first-hand general knowledge of what a juror role entailed.
Abstract: The current standard for determining juror qualification in cases in which the prosecution is seeking the death penalty was formulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1985 in Wainwright v. Witt. This standard differs importantly from its predecessor, and requires that prospective jurors be dismissed if their views would prevent or substantially impair their ability to perform their functions as jurors. This study assessed respondents according to the criteria imposed by Witt. It also measured independently prospective jurors' abilities to perform the various specific tasks of a capital juror and their disposition to impose the death penalty automatically upon defendants convicted of murder punishable by death. Data from 148 respondents, selected randomly from juries on previously tried felony cases, indicated that 28.2 percent of those includable by the Witt standard would automatically impose the death penalty. Considering all respondents who would be erroneously included or excluded, a total of 36 percent of the sample showed inconsistencies with the Witt criterion. These findings are discussed in terms of jurors' difficulties in anticipating their roles as capital jurors. 3 tables and 35 references
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Juror characteristics; Jury decisionmaking; Jury selection; US Supreme Court decisions
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