Del. Prosecutors Weigh in on Death Penalty Questions - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Prosecutors Weigh in on Death Penalty Questions

Posted: Updated:
The Del. Supreme Court which is considering questions about the constitutionality of a judge's involvement in death penalty sentencing in Delaware. (Photo: WBOC Ryan Stanley) The Del. Supreme Court which is considering questions about the constitutionality of a judge's involvement in death penalty sentencing in Delaware. (Photo: WBOC Ryan Stanley)

DOVER, Del.- The Delaware Department of Justice has weighed in on death penalty questions being considered by the Delaware Supreme Court.

The questions before the court center around whether or not a judge can be involved in finding aggravated and mitigating circumstances when considering whether or not to impose the death penalty. In current Delaware law, a judge can be.

Questions were presented to the Delaware Supreme Court after the United States Supreme Court ruled Florida's death penalty statute unconstitutional.

In the Hurst v. Florida ruling in January, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the seven justice majority.

"The Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death," she wrote. "A jury's mere recommendation is not enough."

The state filed a brief that suggests Delaware does involve a jury by requiring a capital jury to unanimously find at least one statutory aggravating fact before the court can even consider a sentence of death. They write that in Florida, a trial judge alone could have found a fact leading to the sentence of death penalty.  

The questions came around the same time the House of Representatives failed to pass legislation that would have repealed the death penalty in Delaware. The legislation was likely to come back up, but lawmakers backing the bill decided to wait for the Delaware Supreme Court decision.

The Public Defender's Office believes the judge's role is unconstitutional. The office has argued strongly for the court to strike down the law altogether, suggesting it would need to be restructured if the judge's role was removed. The legislature would then need to debate on whether or not to pass a new death penalty law. 

The court could also decide to simply remove the judge's role and leave the rest of the law intact. That could pave the way for another repeal effort in the legislature.

After the Public Defender's Office responds to the Department of Justice brief, the court will either make a decision or schedule oral arguments.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Pedestrian Killed Saturday Night in Dorchester County

    Pedestrian Killed Saturday Night in Dorchester County

    Sunday, June 25 2017 6:09 AM EDT2017-06-25 10:09:11 GMT
    Sunday, June 25 2017 6:10 AM EDT2017-06-25 10:10:22 GMT

    Maryland State Police from the Easton barrack are investigating an accident from Saturday night that left one man dead.

    More

    Maryland State Police from the Easton barrack are investigating an accident from Saturday night that left one man dead.

    More
  • Professor's Statement on Warmbier Causes Controversy

    Professor's Statement on Warmbier Causes Controversy

    Saturday, June 24 2017 10:47 PM EDT2017-06-25 02:47:08 GMT
    Saturday, June 24 2017 10:47 PM EDT2017-06-25 02:47:08 GMT
    (Photo Credit: University of Delaware)(Photo Credit: University of Delaware)

    WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The University of Delaware is distancing itself from comments made by an adjunct professor after she said a college student who died after being held by North Korea "got exactly what he deserved."     

    More

    WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The University of Delaware is distancing itself from comments made by an adjunct professor after she said a college student who died after being held by North Korea "got exactly what he deserved."     

    More
  • Troopers Search for Stabbing Suspect

    Troopers Search for Stabbing Suspect

    Saturday, June 24 2017 10:40 PM EDT2017-06-25 02:40:37 GMT
    Saturday, June 24 2017 10:40 PM EDT2017-06-25 02:40:37 GMT
    (Photo Credit: MGN)(Photo Credit: MGN)

    HURLOCK, Md. -- Maryland State Troopers of the Easton Barrack are searching for the suspect responsible for stabbing a man early Saturday morning. 

    More

    HURLOCK, Md. -- Maryland State Troopers of the Easton Barrack are searching for the suspect responsible for stabbing a man early Saturday morning. 

    More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Pedestrian Killed Saturday Night in Dorchester County

    Pedestrian Killed Saturday Night in Dorchester County

    Sunday, June 25 2017 6:09 AM EDT2017-06-25 10:09:11 GMT
    Sunday, June 25 2017 6:10 AM EDT2017-06-25 10:10:22 GMT

    Maryland State Police from the Easton barrack are investigating an accident from Saturday night that left one man dead.

    More

    Maryland State Police from the Easton barrack are investigating an accident from Saturday night that left one man dead.

    More
  • Professor's Statement on Warmbier Causes Controversy

    Professor's Statement on Warmbier Causes Controversy

    Saturday, June 24 2017 10:47 PM EDT2017-06-25 02:47:08 GMT
    Saturday, June 24 2017 10:47 PM EDT2017-06-25 02:47:08 GMT
    (Photo Credit: University of Delaware)(Photo Credit: University of Delaware)

    WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The University of Delaware is distancing itself from comments made by an adjunct professor after she said a college student who died after being held by North Korea "got exactly what he deserved."     

    More

    WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The University of Delaware is distancing itself from comments made by an adjunct professor after she said a college student who died after being held by North Korea "got exactly what he deserved."     

    More
  • Dine and Dash Suspects Arrested

    Dine and Dash Suspects Arrested

    Friday, June 23 2017 11:54 PM EDT2017-06-24 03:54:56 GMT
    Friday, June 23 2017 11:56 PM EDT2017-06-24 03:56:32 GMT
    Two people were arrested for leaving before paying at two Georgetown restaurants.Two people were arrested for leaving before paying at two Georgetown restaurants.

    A Dover man and a Smyrna woman were arrested after they dined and dashed at two Georgetown restaurants two days in a row, according to the Georgetown Police Department.

    More

    A Dover man and a Smyrna woman were arrested after they dined and dashed at two Georgetown restaurants two days in a row, according to the Georgetown Police Department.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices