Berman [Ohio State]: Seeking death for Scott Peterson Commentary
Berman [Ohio State]: Seeking death for Scott Peterson

Doug Berman, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University:

"As regular readers know, I typically try to avoid blogging about high-profile criminal law cases (unless and until there is a Blakely issue). But now that the Scott Peterson case is past the guilt stage and moving to sentencing, I guess it is time to jump into this fray.

First, let me spotlight the article noted today by CrimProf blog here about the enormous costs of the guilt phase of the Peterson trial. Obviously, all these costs are not simply the product of the fact that California is seeking the death penalty against Peterson, but it is certainly reasonable to view that fact as a contributing factor.  (For a lot more on the economic costs of the death penalty, the Death Penalty Information Center has the data here.)

Second, as well covered in articles like this one, Peterson's defense team has moved for a new jury for the penalty phase of his trial.  I do not think a copy of the motion is publicly available, but I bet it is an interesting read.  I wonder if Peterson's high-profile attorneys thought to cite this report from the Massachusetts' Governor's Council on Capital Punishment which contends that a fair death penalty system should grant capital defendants the right "to have a new jury selected for the sentencing stage."

Third, as is very well documented by the FDAP Blakely Page and the ADI Blakely Page, Blakely has made a stunning mess of sentencing in California.  Ergo, if Scott Peterson avoids a death sentence, it it possible that Blakely issues could arise at his sentencing (though perhaps some California lawyers can clarify this issue).

Fourth, as detailed in this prior post, even if Scott Peterson is sentenced to death, there is a reasonable basis for predicting he will die a natural death on death row before the state of California will be able to actually get Peterson to the execution chamber.  At the very least, we can be certain that Peterson will get to see (dozens of) TV movies about his case before his day with the death chambers ever arrives." [November 19, 2004; Sentencing Law and Policy has the post]

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