Delaware death penalty is ruled unconstitutional
Delaware’s highest court struck down the state’s death-penalty law on Tuesday, ruling that it is in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of a fair trial.
This ruling is a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated a similar capital-punishment sentencing system earlier this year in Florida, which brought executions to a temporary halt.
In Delaware, judged could independently impose a death sentence, even if a jury decides otherwise in a case. A 3-2 ruling by the Delaware Supreme Court found that this law violates the 6th Amendment right, which entitles defendants to a jury trial.
The court also found that the law was invalid because a jury in a capital case was not required to find the existence of factors in favor of the death penalty by unanimous vote and beyond reasonable doubt.
A spokesperson for the Delaware Department of Justice says that the agency is reviewing the decision.
According to government websites, Delaware carried out its last execution in 2012 and currently has 13 inmates on death row.
Delaware has had a long history of abolishing and reinstating the death penalty. It was previously outlawed in 1958, when then-Governor J. Caleb Boggs signed a law that prohibited the death penalty in capital cases. However, this was short-lived. Delaware Legislature passed a bill, overturning the previous bill, to reinstate the death penalty in 1961.
Alabama is now that only state that allows judges to decide whether or not the crime committed warrants the death penalty.