Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Death Penalty Standard...Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt

One of my classmates at law school, the inimitable Sean Rogers, suggested that perhaps we should use a different standard for the death penalty, the standard of beyond a shadow of a doubt. The criminal conviction would lie upon the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. But to execute a person, a jury would need to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt in his or her guilt.

Sean suggested the case where we have a bank robber on camera shooting hostages in a bank. Seems pretty clear cut.

But in the cases of merely circumstantial evidence....perhaps a jury would convict, but wouldn't feel the were certain beyond a shadow of a doubt, and thus spare the life of the defendant while sending him or her to prison for life.

I think it's a provocative thesis.

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