[Washington State, Capital Punishment, Race, & Peer Review]

[ Full disclosure — I agree utterly with the ACLU — Capital Punishment “inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law…” ]

“When the state Supreme Court threw out the death penalty the other day, the justices’ opinions naturally focused on weighty constitutional questions, about equal rights and the proportionality of punishment in our criminal-justice system. But most of the four-year-long case that led to the landmark ruling was consumed by a far less lofty question: Is Katherine Beckett legit? …” Who, you ask? That’s what she was wondering. “I had no idea that my work, or questions about my competence, would become so central to a constitutional death-penalty case,” Beckett told me Friday. “So to have it come out the way it did … it was exhausting and suspenseful, but in the end, extremely gratifying.”




Background: Defendant was convicted by a jury in the Superior Court, Pierce County, No. 98-1-04967-9, Rosanne Buckner, J., 2001 WL 36139241, of aggravated first-degree murder and sentenced to death. Defendant appealed, and the Supreme Court, Bridge, J., 158 Wash.2d 759, affirmed conviction but reversed sentence and remanded for resentencing to the Superior Court, which impaneled new jury and resentenced defendant to death. Defendant filed appeal, which the Supreme Court consolidated with its statutorily-required review of all death sentences.
Holdings: The Supreme Court, Fairhurst, C.J., held that:
1 defendant could establish that state’s death penalty violated both federal and state constitutions, and thus the Court would resolve defendant’s challenge to death penalty under state constitution;
2 state’s death penalty was imposed in arbitrary and racially biased manner, and was thus unconstitutional as applied under state constitution; abrogating State v. Cross, 156 Wash. 2d 580, 132 P.3d 80 (2006); State v. Yates, 161 Wash. 2d 714, 168 P.3d 359 (2007); State v. Davis, 175 Wash. 2d 287, 290 P.3d 43 (2012); In re Cross, 180 Wash. 2d 664, 327 P.3d 660 (2014);
3 state’s death penalty, as administered, failed to serve legitimate penological goals, and was thus unconstitutional as applied under state constitution; and
4 decisions regarding propriety of search warrant and orders to obtain physical evidence used in prosecution of defendant were law of the case, barring review by the Court.
Death sentences converted.

State v. Gregory, No. 88086-7, 2018 WL 4925588 (Wash. Oct. 11, 2018).





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