2010 -- NATIONAL LEVEL
Vanderbilt Law Review
ABSTRACT & CITATION
The author of this article argues that all aspects of death penalty cases should be handled at the state level by an elite group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, whose sole responsibility would be death penalty cases. In states where capital cases are handled by counties, on the prosecution side, there are often wide disparities in how often the death sentence is applied. The author finds that these discrepancies track more closely with county budgets than with crime rates. On the defense side, poorer counties offer fewer resources for indigent defense, which can lead to poorer representation. As for judges, most of their capital cases are reversed on appeal, perhaps, the author suggests, because the most experienced judges are not necessarily the ones that decide these cases. Taken together, the failures of county systems cause inaccuracy and unfairness in death penalty cases, where they are at a premium. For either supporters or opponents of the death penalty, this should be troubling. The author therefore puts forth a practical scheme for selecting elite legal actors to serve in newly-created state capital units. He recommends considering a number of factors reflecting attorneys’ records, experience, and reputations. These prosecutors and defenders would select the junior attorneys to work for them as well as the judges whom they mutually find skilled and fair. The author also recommends a committee charging process. He argues that though this system would be expensive ex ante, it would save considerable money over time by reducing appeals, and would depoliticize the death penalty debate by restoring confidence in the justice system.
Gershowitz, A. M. (January 01, 2010). Statewide Capital Punishment: The Case for Eliminating Counties’ Role in the Death Penalty. Vanderbilt Law Review, 63, 2, 307-362Topics: Caseloads, Death Penalty, Funding, Resource Disparity, Salaries, Supreme Court Decisions, Training
Last revised: June 11, 2015 3:48 pm