Crime and law

Posted: September 3rd, 2013




Crime and law

Lesson 4

The McCleskey v. Kemp case began when warren McCleskey was sentenced to death on two accounts of killing an officer during a Georgia furniture store robbery. The officer was white. He appealed that this sentence was delivered on racial discriminatory grounds and that it was therefore unconstitutional. The case was argued in the Supreme Court by Jack Boger, then director of LDF’s capital punishment project. The U. S. Supreme Court after listening to attorneys from both sides issued a ruling that upheld the death penalty. This sentence was not just, given the evidence provided in the court.

The evidence presented by Jack Boger of the study carried out by David Baldus and other jurists proved that most murder cases were sentenced to a death penalty depending on race and previous record of crime. The study showed that an African American was more likely to be sentenced to a death penalty eleven more times than a white person was. The study also showed that killing a white person was treated as more of a crime than the murder of a black person. The other proof was that even after this study was carried out, the state had not taken into consideration any of the observations in order to curb this racial discrimination. Instead, the state attacked the mode of the statistical analysis that Baldus used in his study to analyze the previous cases.

Boger, in his representation, showed that seventeen cases that involved killing a police officer had not received a death sentence punishment yet McCleskesy was sentenced to death, his case being similar to the other seventeen. Although the defense lawyer argued that this was because the aggregation in each case was different, the lawyer did not answer the question of what mechanism the prosecutors used or had in place when it came to determining which case deserved a death sentence or not. The defense lawyer agreed that Georgia had no specific circumstances that were used to narrow down the range of the crimes brought before them. It also did not have any mitigation or statutes of balancing at the sentencing phase which ensured that the jury was not in any way constrained not to be racial.

Boger also proved the discrimination treatment given to McCleskesy by the prosecution by not offering him a plea of bargain as they had offered other victims charged with similar cases. This demonstrated that the prosecutor was sure that he would be convicted and sentenced to the death penalty. The defense lawyer argued that a plea of bargain was offered, depending on the strength of a case, availability of evidence and the credibility of the evidence. In the previous seventeen murder cases that involved police officers as the victims, the evidence was present, but pleas of bargain had been extended. Boger said that his client was declined a plea not based on evidence, but rather on his race. The defense lawyer argued that the study results were not factual due to the manner in which they were collected. The lawyer argued that the subjective factors were not included but Baldus had stated in a court earlier that if they would be included, they would not alter the results of the study. In addition, the court in Georgia had accepted them as genuine results.

It is evident that the U. S. Supreme Court was not justified in upholding the death sentence based on the evidence and argument laid down by lawyers from both sides. There was enough proof to show that McCleskey was sentenced to death due to his African American race and his previous criminal record rather but not wholly on the evidence presented in court.


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