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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98419 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Unbridled Prosecutorial Discretion and Standardless Death Penalty Policies - The Unconstitutionality of the Washington Capital Punishment Statutory Scheme
Journal: University of Puget Sound Law Review  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:(Winter 1984)  Pages:299-353
Author(s): J E Lobsenz
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 55
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Washington State's current death penalty statutes violate the separation of powers doctrine, the grand jury indictment clause of separation of powers doctrine, the grand jury indictment clause of the 5th amendment, the equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment and the Washington State constitution, the vagueness doctrine of the due process clause, and the doctrine of unlawful delegation of legislative power. They also promote an unequal administration of capital punishment in further violation of the guarantee of equal protection of the law.
Abstract: Washington State statutes give local prosecutors discretion to seek capital punishment in murder cases under certain circumstances, unchecked by any other institution and unguided by any meaningful standards. By vesting sole authority in the prosecution to initiate a death penalty proceeding, the separation-of-powers doctrine is violated. The systematic failure to seek input from the lay community by ignoring the institution of the grand jury compounds the problem by leaving the prosecutor's power unchecked. Further, by authorizing prosecutors to seek varying degrees of punishment for defendants who have committed similar crimes, equal protection principles are violated. The absence of legislative standards or definitions enables prosecutors to devise their own death penalty schemes, in violation of the due process vagueness principles. The absence of legislative standards for the use of prosecutorial discretion in this area also fosters disparity in capital punishment practices across counties. A total of 243 footnotes are provided. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Prosecutorial discretion; State laws; Washington
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