Opining on Death: Witness Sentence Recommendations in Capital Trials
32 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2008
Date Written: 2000
Despite the Supreme Court's command that capital prosecutions be free of undue arbitrary and capricious influences, the trials themselves are becoming increasingly emotional and personalized. This Article addresses a key outgrowth of this evolution: the increasingly common practice of witnesses opining on whether a defendant should be put to death, despite the Court's apparent prohibition of such testimony. The Article addresses why this practice is likely to continue, and advances several reasons why the Supreme Court should impose an unequivocal bar on sentence opinion testimony in capital trials.
Fish not, with this melancholy bait, For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
-WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE act 1, sc. 1.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation