This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.
on Oct 4, 1999
Decided Apr 18, 2000
Case Ruling: WILLIAMS v. WARDEN TAYLOR
A Virginia jury convicted petitioner Williams of robbery and capital murder, and, after a sentencing hearing, found a probability of future dangerousness and unanimously fixed his punishment at death, applying the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
In habeas corpus proceedings, a federal trial judge [overruled] the death sentence [because it] was constitutionally infirm on ineffective-assistance grounds, identifying five categories of mitigating evidence that counsel had failed to introduce. The Virginia Supreme Court then re-imposed the death penalty.
Held:(Stevens, joined by OíConnor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer)
The death penalty conviction is overturned on ineffective-assistance grounds.
Held:(OíConnor, joined by Rehnquist, Kennedy, Thomas, and in part by Scalia)
The section of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act intended to shorten the time between sentencing and executions in capital punishment cases is upheld.
Dissent:(Rehnquist, joined by Thomas and Scalia)
I agree with the Courtís interpretation upholding the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act but disagree with its decision to grant habeas relief in this case. The murder was just one act in a crime spree that lasted most of Williamsís life. There was strong evidence that petitioner would continue to be a danger to society, both in and out of prison. A jury would not have been swayed by potential mitigating evidence demonstrating that petitioner had a terrible childhood and a low IQ.
Participating counts on VoteMatch question 9.
Question 9: Stricter punishment reduces crime
Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
- Topic: Crime
- Headline: No death penalty without considering mitigating evidence
- Headline 2: Death penalty OK if no mitigating evidence
- Headline 3: Shorten time between sentencing and executions
- Key for participation codes:
- Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
- Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
- Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
- Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
- Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.
participating in 98-8384
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