skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 

NCJ Number: 65944 Find in a Library
Title: APOPELLATE REVIEW OF THE DECISION TO IMPOSE DEATH
Journal: GEORGETOWN LAW JOURNAL  Volume:68  Issue:1  Dated:(OCTOBER 1979)  Pages:97-161
Author(s): G E DIX
Corporate Author: Georgetown University
Law Journal Assoc
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 65
Sponsoring Agency: Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20001
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE GEORGIA, FLORIDA, AND TEXAS APPELLATE COURTS HAVE INVALIDATED DEATH PENALITIES, PROVIDED A BASIS FOR ENCOURAGING CONSISTENT SENTENCING, AND RESOLVED PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS IS EXPLORED.
Abstract: CONCLUSIONS PRESENTED HEREIN ARE BASED ON EVALUATION OF EMPIRICAL DATA AND ANALYSIS OF NUMEROUS APPELLATE OPINIONS. THE JULY 1976 UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT DEATH PENALTY DECISIONS RELY ON APPELLATE REVIEW TO HELP ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT SCHEMES. EVALUATION OF THE RECORD, HOWEVER, INDICATES THAT THE APPELLATE REVIEW SYSTEM HAS FAILED TO MEET THESE EXPECTATIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, ALTHOUGH THE DECISIONS OF THE GEORGIA SUPREME COURT CONTAIN EXTENSIVE DISCUSSIONS OF SUBSTANTIVE CAPITAL SENTENCING ISSUES IN SUCH CASES AS PRESNELL V. STATE (1976), AND STEPHENS V. STATE (1976), THE COURT HAS NOT YET DEVELOPED A USEFUL FRAMEWORK FOR SCRUTINIZING INDIVIDUAL SENTENCES. THE COURT, IN FOCUSING ON THE EXISTENCE OF STATUTORY AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES, HAS DEFINED THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES SO BROADLY THAT IT IS SELDOM DIFFICULT TO FIND THEM. LITTLE ATTENTION HAS BEEN PAID TO POTENTIALLY MITIGRATING CONSIDERATIONS OR TO THE BALANCING OF AGGRAVATING AND MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES. SIMILARLY, THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT HAS NOT PROVIDED EFFECTIVE APPELLATE REVIEW. ALTHOUGH THE COURT HAS BEEN FAR MORE WILLING TO REDUCE DEATH PENALTIES THAN ITS GEORGIA COUNTERPART, IT REQUIRES EXTRAORDINARY JUSTIFICATION FOR A TRIAL JUDGE TO OVERRIDE A JURY ADVISORY VERDICT FAVORING LENIENCY. IN TEXAS, APPELLATE REVIEW IS DIFFICULT TO EVALUATE BECAUSE THE COURT HAS NOT CLEARLY DEFINED THE JURY'S FUNCTION. THE TEXAS COURT WILL USUALLY CONSIDER ONLY WHETHER THE RECORD CONTAINS EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT AFFIRMATIVE FINDINGS ON THE SPECIAL QUESTIONS SUBMITTED TO THE JURY AND WILL DO SO ONLY IF SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED. IN ALL THREE STATES, THE APPELLATE COURTS HAVE RARELY HELD DEATH SENTENCES INVALID ON THEIR MERITS. THE APPELLATE REVIEW PROCESSES HAVE NOT RESULTED IN APPELLATE OPINIONS WHICH ENCOURAGE CONSISTENT SENTENCING PRACTICES, AND ALL THREE STATE APPELLATE TRIBUNALS HAVE BEEN INCONSISTENT REGARDING PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS. TABLES AND FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED. (LWM)
Index Term(s): Appeal procedures; Appellate courts; Capital punishment; Florida; Georgia (USA); Judicial review; Sentencing/Sanctions; State courts; State supreme courts; Texas; US Supreme Court
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65944

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.