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High court to review California death penalty case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear Brown v . Sanders (docket 04-980), in which it will rule on the application of the "harmless error" doctrine to death penalty cases. The case concerns California's death penalty law, Cal. Penal Code 190.2 [scroll down], under which the accused is ineligible for capital punishment unless "special circumstances" were found during the guilt phase. The question is whether the law is a "weighing" statute in which jurors must consider a list of aggravating factors and what the effect of such a determination would be on the case. This was the only grant on Monday's order list, and the Court agreed to hear only two of the three questions raised in the appeal by California prison officials challenging the Ninth Circuit's holding. The case will be heard in the October Term. Review the Ninth Circuit's handbook on the death penalty in California . SCOTUSblog has more.

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