Capital Jurors as the Litmus Test of Community CONSCIENCE FOR THE JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY

By Antonio, Michael E.; Fleury-Steiner, Benjamin D. et al. | Judicature, May/June 2004 | Go to article overview

Capital Jurors as the Litmus Test of Community CONSCIENCE FOR THE JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY


Antonio, Michael E., Fleury-Steiner, Benjamin D., Hans, Valerie P., Bowers, William J., Judicature


This fall, the United States Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty in Simmons v. Roper.1 The Eighth Amendment issue before the Court in Simmons will be whether the juvenile death penalty accords with the conscience of the community. This article presents evidence that bears directly on the conscience of the community in juvenile capital cases as revealed through extensive in-depth interviews with jurors who made the critical life-or-death decision in such cases. The data come from the Capital Jury Project, a national study of the exercise of sentencing discretion in capital cases conducted with the support of the National Science Foundation.

On August 26, 2003, the Missouri Supreme Court declared in Simmons v. Roper that the execution of persons younger than 18 at the time of their crime violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Applying the U.S. Supreme Court's reasoning in Atkins v. Virginia,2 which struck down the execution of the mentally retarded, the Missouri Supreme Court found that there was a national consensus against the death penalty for juveniles and ruled that juveniles could no longer be executed as a matter of federal constitutional law. In the court's words,

... a national consensus has developed against the execution of juvenile offenders, as demonstrated by the fact that eighteen states now bar such executions for juveniles, that twelve other states bar executions altogether, that no state has lowered its age of execution below 18 since Stanford, that five states have legislatively or by case law raised or established the minimum age at 18, and that the imposition of the juvenile death penalty has become truly unusual over the last decade. Accordingly, this court finds the Supreme Court would today hold such executions are prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The U.S. Supreme Court twice refused to consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty in the year since its Atkins ruling and prior to the Missouri court's Simmons decision. In the Court's denial of habeas corpus review in In re Stanford, however, four dissenting justices subscribed to the view that there appears to be a growing public consensus that the juvenile death penalty violates evolving standards of decency.3 They pointed to parallels between community sentiments about the acceptability of the death penalty for mentally retarded offenders, now found to violate the Constitution, and such sentiments about acceptability of capital punishment for juvenile offenders. Their Eighth Amendment arguments rested on state legislative trends and declining public support. Conspicuously absent, however, was any assessment of the behavior of capital juries in juvenile cases.

Chief Justice Rehnquist's dissenting opinion in Atkins suggests that the decision-making behavior of capital jurors is fundamental to an Eighth Amendment determination of community conscience. Joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas, he argued that the actions of state legislatures and capital juries are the most appropriate indicators for determining the community's evolving standards of decency. In particular, he wrote that the behavior of capital juries:

"is a significant and reliable objective index of contemporary values," because of the jury's intimate involvement in the case and its function of "maintaining a link between contemporary community values and the penal system."4

In accord with the concerns voiced by the dissenters in Atkins, this article reports recently developed evidence on the decision making of capital jurors.5 It provides direct evidence on the exercise of sentencing discretion by persons who have served as jurors in juvenile capital cases-the people who bring the community conscience to bear in practice and who express community sentiment in their thinking and decision making.

The Capital Jury Project

The CJP is a national program of research on the decision making of capital jurors conducted by a consortium of university-based researchers with the support of the National Science Foundation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Capital Jurors as the Litmus Test of Community CONSCIENCE FOR THE JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.