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US high court considers California death penalty case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday heard oral arguments on whether convicted murderer Ronald Sanders was wrongly sentenced to death by a California jury that improperly relied on invalid aggravating factors in deciding the sentence. Sanders was sentenced to death in 1982 for beating a woman to death in a drug-related robbery. In arguments Tuesday in Brown v. Sanders [Duke Law case backgrounder], the attorney for the state of California said that the death sentence should still stand because the jury also relied on valid aggravating factors in arriving at its decision. Sanders' attorney argued the sentence should be overruled because the invalid factors still influenced the jury's decision on the valid factors. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case [JURIST report] earlier this year after the Ninth Circuit threw out the death sentence [PDF opinion]. The ABA has merit briefs for the case. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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