Averting Mistaken Executions by Adopting the Model Penal Code’s Exclusion of Death in the Presence of Lingering Doubts
This article considers community views on the risk of mistaken executions and how sentencing juries respond to such risks. It explores the present state of the law surrounding risk-taking regarding lingering or residual doubt, and finds the law in a state of denial. Though the risk may be there, and jurors may see it, this is not something they are directed, or even invited, to consider. Some jurors may deny effect to the risk they see, believing it is not a proper subject of their attention. Others will consider it, yet wonder whether they should. This inconsistent treatment, and dissonance from what the public wants and justifiably expects from its legal system, is largely a product of the United States Supreme Court’s 1988 decision in Franklin v. Lynaugh. Arguably misread, and at least misguided, the Court’s decision on considering lingering or residual doubts about guilt as a mitigating factor at the penalty phase has retarded development of meaningful ways to avert mistaken executions.
- Document type Article
- Countries list United States
- Themes list Networks,