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August 22, 2019

Sixth Circuit judge in separate opinion makes case for Eighth Amendment precluding execution of persons under 21 at time of murder

A helpful reader made sure I saw the notable concurring opinion of Sixth Circuit Justice Stranch at the end of a panel opinion rejecting a capital defendant's habeas appeal in Pike v. Gross, No. 16-5854 (6th Cir. Aug. 22, 2019) (available here). Here are the first and last paragraph of Judge Stranch's opinion, which highlight who readers might want to check out what appears in between:

I join the opinion in this case but write separately because it presents an issue with which our society must be concerned — whether 18-year-olds should be sentenced to death. Had she been 17 rather than 18 at the time of her crime, like her codefendant Tadaryl Shipp, Christa Pike would not be eligible for the death penalty....

For these reasons, I believe that society’s evolving standards of decency likely do not permit the execution of individuals who were under 21 at the time of their offense.  But, because we review this case under the strictures of AEDPA, we may grant Pike relief only if the state court’s adjudication of her case was either (1) contrary to or unreasonably applied Supreme Court precedent, or (2) “resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).  And the Supreme Court has not extended Roper to 18-year-olds.  I therefore reluctantly concur because I agree that the state court’s decision denying Pike’s postconviction petition did not unreasonably apply Strickland’s prejudice prong.

August 22, 2019 at 04:37 PM | Permalink


In my opinion: A blanket law does not conform to American values. Every case is different and should be heard for due process. Mass murders with no remorse and only feel retaliation and hatred, very high risk and a danger to the public need to sentenced to death immediately. No need to cottle them and care for them the rest of their life in prison. Caged for the rest of their natural life is inhumane, end their misery like you would a mad dog.

Posted by: LC in Texas | Aug 26, 2019 1:37:51 PM

. . . so if 9/11 hijacker Salem al-Hazmi, age 20 at the time, had somehow survived when the airplane he helped hijack crashed into the Pentagon, it would have been "inhumane" to execute him?

Posted by: William C Jockusch | Aug 27, 2019 9:13:33 PM

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