Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another bad idea

Here's word that the State of Georgia, upset because it didn't get the okay to kill a citizen convicted of murder, wants to mete out death by non-unanimous jury verdicts.  Nevermind that we're talking about a person's life.  Nevermind that you can't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt with a non-unanimous verdict.  Nevermind that Brian Nichols was sentenced to multiple life sentences without parole.

The prosecutor even wants los federales to pursue criminal charges and, in turn, the death penalty.

Look, for whatever reason, the jury did not agree that Mr. Nichols deserved the needle.  That shouldn't be blamed on a legal system that demands a unanimous verdict for death.  Blame it on the prosecutor for not doing his job during voir dire.  Blame it on the prosecutor for not bring enough evidence to support his case during trial.  Blame it on the one juror who refused to consider the death penalty.

But don't take potshots at the due process provisions of the 14th Amendment.  Don't sacrifice the 8th Amendment's proscriptions against cruel and unusual punishments.  Don't throw out our 5th Amendment protections against double jeopardy.  Don't discard our notions of federalism.

Bad cases make (very) bad law.

Our justice system is not a blood sport.

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