September 13, 2016 Articles

Delaware Capital Punishment First Domino to Fall under Hurst

Delaware strikes down the death penalty as unconstitutional under Hurst.

By David I. Schoen – September 13, 2016

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Hurst v. Florida, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 616, 193 L. Ed. 2d 504 (Jan. 12, 2016), death penalty litigators immediately began to evaluate the impact that the decision would have on capital murder sentencing statutes found around the country. On August 2, 2016, the Supreme Court of Delaware in Rauf v. State, 2016 Del. LEXIS 419 (Del. Aug. 2, 2016), answered that question in a most dramatic fashion, at least insofar as that state’s system is concerned, striking down its capital punishment statute as unconstitutional under Hurst. The question now is whether this decision will be just the first in a series of falling dominoes among jurisdictions that provide for capital punishment.

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