DELAWARE (USA): PENDING DEATH PENALTY CASES HALTED
February 1, 2016: Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden is halting all 39 of Delaware's pending death penalty cases while Delaware's Supreme Court mulls the constitutionality of the state's death penalty law. The order was issued by Judge Jurden, head of the Superior Court system. On January 26, Superior Court Judge Paul Wallace asked the state Supreme Court to determine whether Delaware's death penalty law meets constitutional muster in light of two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and the Supreme Court accepted. Those questions were prompted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court said Florida's death sentencing scheme was unconstitutional because a jury, not a judge, must find each fact necessary to impose a death sentence.
Delaware's sentencing scheme is similar to Florida's. In Delaware, juries have to unanimously find at least 1 aggravating factor to recommend a death sentence. Then, a judge weighs all relevant information that came out at trial before either sentencing that person to die or giving them life in prison.
All but 1 Supreme Court justice found putting more power in the hands of judges unconstitutional in their recent ruling. The Public Defender's Office and the state will file arguments to the Delaware Supreme Court in the coming weeks, with a ruling expected before the summer. (Source: Associated Press, Delaware Public Media, 01/02/2016)