House Upholds Important Judicial Campaign Tool
The state House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill that would have let juries, not judges, decide whether people convicted of capital murder should be put to death or serve life in prison without parole.
Under current law, juries give advisory verdicts in capital cases, but judges can override.
If a jury recommends the death penalty, a judge can impose a sentence of life in prison without parole. If a jury recommends life in prison without parole, a judge can impose a death sentence.
What the story does not mention is that when judges use override, nine times out of ten they use it to reject the jury’s life recommendation and impose a death sentence.
Whether or not to impose a death sentence is a serious question, one that ought to be answered by a person who is completely free of any outside influences. In a state that chooses judges through partisan elections, that person is not the judge.