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Supreme Court hears cases on jury role in death penalty decisions

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday heard two cases involving jury deliberations in death penalty cases. In the first, Oregon v. Guzek [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], the Court considered whether juries can weigh any doubts they have about a defendant's guilt in deciding whether to impose the death sentence. In Kansas v. Marsh [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], the Court considered whether a sentencing scheme is constitutional when it imposes the death penalty when jurors found mitigating and aggravating evidence to be equal. The justices appeared unsympathetic to arguments by counsel for the defendants in both cases, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia questioning what the parties wanted in the cases. The cases come shortly after the 1,000th execution in the US [JURIST report] since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1977. AP has more.

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