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Delaware Death Penalty Struck Down by State Supreme Court

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By    |   Wednesday, 03 Aug 2016 09:20 AM

Delaware's death penalty was struck down Tuesday by the state's Supreme Court, which charged that the statute violates the U.S. Constitution by giving judges and not juries the last word.

According to the Wilmington News Journal, the decision leaves the death penalty in the hands of Delaware's general assembly to fix, but it faces strong opposition from legislators who would like to abolish it all together. The newspaper pointed out that a bill to abolish the death penalty passed the state senate just last year before failing in the House.

"I applaud the Supreme Court's finding that the state's death penalty law is unconstitutional," Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement on his Facebook page. "As I have come to see after careful consideration, the use of capital punishment is an instrument of imperfect justice that doesn’t make us any safer."

"The important concerns of death penalty proponents must be balanced by the examples of flawed testimony, innocent people on death row being exonerated, and other facts that weigh strongly against the use of capital punishment. While I would have supported abolishing the death penalty legislatively, it is my hope that today's decision will mean that we never see another death sentence in our state," Markell continued.

Delaware attorney general Matthew Dean said in a statement, according to The New York Times, that he was reviewing the Supreme Court's decision and has not decided whether to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

National Public Radio stated that all capital murder trials and the executions of about a dozen prisoners in Delaware are now pending. NPR wrote that it was not certain if the ruling will be applied retroactively.

The Times wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court previously struck down Florida's capital sentencing law, stating that the "Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death."

Florida's legislative fix for the law, allowing a jury to impose the death penalty on a 10-2 vote, is currently being challenged, noted The New York Times. Alabama is the only other state that allows judges to override a jury decision and impose such a penalty.

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Delaware's death penalty was struck down Tuesday by the state's Supreme Court, which charged that the statute violates the U.S. Constitution by giving judges and not juries the last word.
delaware, death penalty, struck down, supreme court
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2016-20-03
Wednesday, 03 Aug 2016 09:20 AM
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