LIVING WITH THE Death Penalty

By Leyte-Vidal, Henry; Silverman, Scott J. | Judicature, March/April 2006 | Go to article overview

LIVING WITH THE Death Penalty


Leyte-Vidal, Henry, Silverman, Scott J., Judicature


The judges who preside over death penalty cases are learned men and women dedicated to carrying out the law. They are also human beings with feelings and emotions who at times make the most difficult decisions in American jurisprudence.

The late night news runs a breaking story about the murder of a young woman in the south part of town and the hunt for her killer. You are just getting ready to go to bed. You stop and wonder whether you will be the judge assigned to the case once the authorities apprehend the perpetrator. You wonder this because you know that Florida is one of only three states (along with Alabama and Delaware) where the jury's verdict is advisory, and the trial judge is ultimately responsible for making the life or death decision.' The judge must give the jury's advisory opinion great weight but ultimately the judge makes the final decision. As you can imagine, this responsibility weighs heavily on Florida trial judges. The purpose of this article is to present the results of an informal survey of some of those judges to see how the responsibilities involved in death penalty trials affect them.

As a trial judge assigned to a criminal division you are required to make many tough calls. If the prosecution seeks the death penalty, you will find that there is no other type of case that requires as much work or contemplation. There will probably be media attention. The lawyers, the press, the public, and the appellate courts will scrutinize every decision you make. Your philosophy about capital cases does not matter anymore. All of the moral questions you may have discussed with your friends at dinner parties are irrelevant. If the blind filing system assigns the case to your division, you are going to have to live with the possibility that you may have to sentence a person to death.

A week later, you walk into your courtroom, look over to your left, and see a handcuffed man seated in the empty jury box wearing a red jump suit with several corrections officers hovering about him. You soon realize that it is the same person the police were seeking in the news broadcast you watched a week earlier. After reading the indictment, you learn that the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. This is your first capital case and you are about to confirm what you have already been warned numerous times in your judicial education courses-"death is different."

The media is already set up and prepared to report on the proceedings. You find that the defendant is indigent and qualifies for the services of the Public Defender; however, the Public Defender announces a conflict of interest and immediately moves to withdraw from the case. You must now appoint a substitute attorney (also known as conflict counsel) to represent the indigent defendant, but you do not get to choose just any lawyer. You quickly learn that the availability of able defense counsel is severely limited.

A well-qualified courtroom

The Florida Supreme Court, in response to several issues, but primarily due to claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, has established minimum standards for attorneys in capital cases.2 The rule specifically states that the standards generally required for lawyers in non-capital cases are inadequate for death penalty cases.3 Defense counsel must now meet a different set of minimum qualifications in order to defend someone charged with a death penalty offense. One of the requirements a lawyer must now meet is the successful completion of a legal education course devoted specifically to the defense of capital cases.1 Further, a lawyer must satisfy a separate set of rules adopted by the "conflict committee," which is responsible for approving and removing counsel from the list of available death penalty defense attorneys.5

Just as you are about to appoint a qualified lawyer from the list of available defense attorneys, the prosecutor respectfully inquires as to whether you, the judge, are "death" qualified. …

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
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • 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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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

LIVING WITH THE Death Penalty
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    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

    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.