I based my comments on parental notification an article by Molly Ivins. I misread Ivins's article. Texas does allow a maturity exemption within the judicial bypass procedure for parental notification. Ivins wrote: "If a minor can go before a court and prove she either cannot or clearly should not notify her parents, a judge can grant her exemption from the requirement." Ivins goes on to provide a number of cannot and should not examples, none of which are related to maturity. Although maturity exists as an exemption now, Ivins suggests that the exemption is de facto unavailable in most Texas counties due to ignorance. Ivins further reports that the Texas legislature is considering a bill that would mandate parental consent rather than notice. Consent implies that maturity would not be an exception.
Surely there is an age below which no offender, no matter what his crime, can be deemed to have the cognitive or emotional maturity necessary to warrant the death penalty. But at least at the margins between adolescence and adulthood-- and especially for 17-year-olds such as respondent--the relevant differences between "adults" and "juveniles" appear to be a matter of degree, rather than of kind. It follows that a legislature may reasonably conclude that at least some 17-year-olds can act with sufficient moral culpability, and can be sufficiently deterred by the threat of execution, that capital punishment may be warranted in an appropriate case.
Chronological age is not an unfailing measure of psychological development, and common experience suggests that many 17-year-olds are more mature than the average young "adult."
O'Connor's view is wholly unprincipled. She wants to make all 17 year olds executable and let juries sort them out. I trust juries to make important decisions when given accurate information. Unfortunately, death penalty juries are stacked via voir dire to include the most enthusiastic supporters of the needle. Then, juries are routinely given bad, false, or incomplete information upon which to base their decision:
Dr Grigson (often referred to as "Dr Death") has testified for the prosecution in at least 140 Texas capital trials; jurors imposed death sentences in more than 98 percent of these cases. Dr Grigson has repeatedly testified that his predictions are 100 percent accurate.
Further, O'Connor must also support a maturity exception to parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. Typically, a minor must demonstrate that a parent is unavailable or that it would be dangerous to notify a parent, before a court will allow an exception to parental notice of an abortion. Under the O'Connor rule, any 17 year old who acts adult enough should have an automatic pass -- or at least the right to have a jury decide whether she's adult enough to circumvent notification.
We need a bright line between children and adults for legal purposes. There will always be 17 year olds who are more mature than 20 year olds and 30 year olds who consistently act like children. The only other option is to return to a more communal society, where adulthood is conferred by ceremony and consensus.
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By 10:09 AM, at
Jambo, you make me weep.
I'm sure I would if I had made the post above, but I did not. I hope the comment was made by someone known to one or the other of us who has just gone a little too far in an attempt at humor.
By 12:53 PM, at
Yet another victim of identity theft.
I deleted the faux-Jambo comment.<< Home