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October 23, 2007

NY high court reaffirms its disruption of state death penalty

As Howard Bashman reports here, the Court of Appeals of New York has affirmed its 2004 LaValle ruling finding unconstitutional the state's death penalty procedures (originally discussed here). Today's majority opinion in People v. Taylor, No. 123 (NY Oct. 23, 2007) (available here) begins this way:

Three years ago, in People v LaValle (3 NY3d 88 [2004]), we held that the jury deadlock instruction under CPL 400.27 violates our State Constitution.  Because a deadlock instruction is both essential to a death penalty statute and necessary to conform with principles of due process, we were compelled to invalidate the entire sentencing portion of the statute.  We are now asked to decide whether an earlier attempt by a trial court to minimize the coercive effect of the flawed jury deadlock instruction warrants revisiting the issue of that instruction's constitutionality as applied to the present defendant.  We hold that under the doctrine of stare decisis, defendant's death sentence must be vacated and the matter remitted to Supreme Court for resentencing.

UPDATE:  TalkLeft and Crime & Consequence now have comments on Taylor

October 23, 2007 at 11:35 AM | Permalink


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» Verfassungswidrig from Keine Todesstrafe - No Death Penalty
Der New York Court of Appeals hat heute das Todesurteil von John Taylor für verfassungswidrig erklärt. Dies hat zur Folge dass das Todesurteil von John Taylor, dem einzigen Insassen im Todestrakt von New York, in eine lebenslange Haftstrafe ohne Begn... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 27, 2007 5:44:34 AM

» http://nylawblog.typepad.com/suigeneris/2007/10/last-week-the-n.html from Sui Generis--a New York law blog
Last week the New York Court of Appeals handed down its decision in People v Taylor, 2007 NY Slip Op 07911. This Buffalo News article sums up the case quite nicely: The 4-3 decision is significant because the case involving John Taylor is the last deat... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 28, 2007 10:20:45 PM


"disruption"? Isn't that a rather odd turn of phrase here?

The excerpt states that the NY CoA found the instruction/statute violated the state constitution. How do you go from that to the NY high court "disrupting" the state's death penalty? The state's death penalty, in the judgment of the governmental branch charged with interpreting the laws & constitution of the state, violated the state's fundamental charter. It's not as though NY's death penalty regime has some divine right to exist & only the wicked, activist courts are "disrupting" it, after all...

Posted by: Huh | Oct 23, 2007 1:46:34 PM

I think that failure to sever a provision that a court (dubiously) finds unconstitutional when the statute expressly requires severance qualifies as "disruption."

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 23, 2007 2:16:21 PM

Ah, the fun of blogging word choices.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 23, 2007 3:44:02 PM

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