CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, October 18, 2019

Flanders on Too Many Aggravating Factors

Chad Flanders (Saint Louis University - School of Law) has posted Is Having Too Many Aggravating Factors the Same as Having None at All?: A Comment on the Hidalgo Cert. Petition (UC Davis Law Review Online, vol. 51, 2017) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
While the Court does not dispute that at first blush the defendant's argument appears logical, it is disturbed by the prospect of how one determines the point at which the number of aggravating circumstances causes the death penalty statute to be generally unconstitutional. Is the Court to engage in some mathematical calculation as to who might be covered by the statute and who is not; and if so, what would be reasonable and logical factors to include in the formula? Can the Court arbitrarily declare that fifty aggravating circumstances is too many but forty-nine is permissible? Even assuming one could create a tool that would measure the percentage of defendants eligible for capital punishment, where is the dividing line of constitutionality and who makes that decision?

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