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Monday, June 11, 2007

More from the Bush Supreme Court

Posted by: Jambo / 1:07 AM

Well, at least they still get a trial.

A decision by the Supreme Court on Monday that made it easier for prosecutors to exclude people who express reservations about the death penalty from capital juries will make the panels whiter and more conviction-prone, experts in law and psychology said this week.

The jurors who remain after people with moral objections to imposing the death penalty are weeded out, studies uniformly show, are significantly more likely to vote to find defendants guilty than jurors as a whole.

It has long been the law in every state with capital punishment that only people who are prepared to apply the death penalty may serve on capital juries. Monday’s decision, which involved a juror’s equivocation about the death penalty on learning that life without parole was an option, has the potential to make capital juries even less representative.

“It could give judges the authority to exclude about half the population from service in death penalty cases,” said Samuel R. Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan. That is because support for the death penalty drops from more than 60 percent to about half when life in prison is the alternative.

That's not far removed from Texas law that requires juries made up solely of people who believe "some black guy probably did it."

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