Opining on Death: Witness Sentence Recommendations in Capital Trials

32 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2008

See all articles by Wayne A. Logan

Wayne A. Logan

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: 2000

Abstract

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

Logan, Wayne A., Opining on Death: Witness Sentence Recommendations in Capital Trials (2000). Boston College Law Review, Vol. 41, 2000, FSU College of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory Series Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1186722

Wayne A. Logan (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

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