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May 13, 2009

Interesting post-DP repeal ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court

As detailed in this local article from New Jersey, the "state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a murderer whose case was proceeding as New Jersey abolished the death penalty can be sentenced to life without parole, even though the state had no such punishment when he was convicted."  The ruling came in State v. Fortin, No. A-27-08 (NJ May 12, 2009) (available here), and here is a paragraph from the opinion's syllabus that summarizes the majority's holding:

Because defendant had prior notice of the former statute‚Äôs death penalty procedures, there is no impediment to proceeding to the penalty phase under the former statute. If the jury concludes that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, rendering defendant subject to a death sentence under the former law, then imposing a life-without-parole sentence under the new law would not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause.  If the jury finds in favor of a non-death sentence, defendant must be sentenced under the law as it existed at the time of the offense, to a term of thirty years to life with a thirty-year parole disqualifier.

May 13, 2009 at 11:20 AM | Permalink


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