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Callins v. Collins

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant was sentenced to death for murder. Defendant petitioned the United States Supreme Court for writ of certiorari after the circuit court affirmed the district court’s denial of his petition for habeas corpus.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The United States Supreme Court’s death penalty jurisprudence requires both that the death penalty be imposed consistently and that the sentencer have discretion not to impose capital punishment.

    Facts.

    Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery and murder. In the second stage he was sentenced to death for the murder. Defendant petitioned for habeas corpus, alleging that the bifurcated sentencing violated the Due Process Clause and double jeopardy. The district court denied his petition for habeas corpus. The court of appeals affirmed. Defendant petitioned the United States Supreme Court for writ of certiorari.

    Issue.

    Whether the United States Supreme Court’s death penalty jurisprudence requires both that the death penalty be imposed consistently and that the sentencer have discretion not to impose capital punishment.

    Held.

    Yes. Defendant’s petition for writ of certiorari is denied. The United States Supreme Court’s death penalty jurisprudence requires both that the death penalty be imposed consistently and that the sentencer have discretion not to impose capital punishment.

    Dissent.

    In Furman v. Georgia, 408 US. 238 (1972), the United States Supreme Court held that the death penalty must be imposed fairly and with reasonable consistency. Later, in Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586 (1978), the Court held that the sentencer must have total discretion not to impose the death penalty where mitigating factors weigh in favor of leniency. These constitutional demands for consistency in the imposition of the death penalty and for discretion not to impose such a sentence are irreconcilable. Because the death penalty cannot be administered in a manner that adheres to the Constitution, it should not be administered at all.

    Concurrence.

    The Fifth Amendment clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed, and establishes beyond doubt that the death penalty is not one of the "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Convictions in opposition to the death penalty are often passionate and deeply held. That would be no excuse for reading them into a Constitution that does not contain them, even if they represented the convictions of a majority of Americans.

    Discussion.

    The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.


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