Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, McCleskey (Petitioner), was a black man convicted of murdering a white police officer. The jury sentenced Petitioner to death. Now he claims that sentencing was administered in a discriminatory manner.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A criminal defendant has the burden of proving the existence of purposeful discrimination and that this discrimination had a discriminatory effect on him.
Issue. Does the introduction of a statistical study indicating that race enters into capital sentencing decisions prove that Petitioner’s sentence is unconstitutional?
Held. No. A criminal defendant has the burden of proving the existence of purposeful discrimination and that this had a discriminatory effect on him. The Baldus study describes sentencing in general and does not prove that discrimination occurred in this particular case.
This presumption applies only if the sentencing procedures focus discretion on the particularized nature of the crime and the particularized characteristics of the individual defendant.View Full Point of Law