The Mississippi Supreme Court may decide the constitutionality of a 1994 state law that allows it to find “harmless” errors committed by juries in death penalty cases.
Roger Lee Gillett challenged the law in his post-conviction petition that seeks to overturn his death sentence or to get him a new trial.
The law was enacted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Mississippi case in 1990 that state appellate courts can uphold murderers’ death sentences, even if their sentencing juries wrongly considered some adverse evidence.
Chandler Clemons had challenged the reweighing of the sentencing evidence in his case. The case dealt only with the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial, not Clemons’ convictions.
The U.S. Supreme Court stopped short of upholding the Mississippi death sentence of Clemons. But it ruled that describing a crime to juries as “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel” without further definition — as was…
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