Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994)

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Author: Justice Ginsburg

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Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994)

JUSTICE GINSBURG, concurring.

This case is most readily resolved under a core requirement of due process, the right to be heard. Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690 (1986). When the prosecution urges a defendant’s future dangerousness as cause for the death sentence, the defendant’s right to be heard means that he must be afforded an opportunity to rebut the argument. See Skipper v. South Carolina, 476 U.S. 1, 5, n. 1 (1986). To be full and fair, that opportunity must include the right to inform the jury, if it is indeed the case, that the defendant is ineligible for parole. JUSTICE BLACKMUN’s opinion is in accord with JUSTICE O’CONNOR’s on this essential point. See ante at 164, 165-166; post at 176-178.

As a subsidiary matter, JUSTICE O’CONNOR’s opinion clarifies that the due process requirement is met if the relevant information is intelligently conveyed to the jury; due process does not dictate that the judge herself, rather than defense counsel, provide the instruction. See post at 177-178. I do not read JUSTICE BLACKMUN’s opinion to say otherwise. And I note that the trial court here not only refused to instruct the jury that in this case life means "life without parole"; the court also ordered petitioner’s counsel to refrain from saying anything to the jury about parole ineligibility. App. 55-57.

On these understandings, I concur in JUSTICE BLACKMUN’s opinion.

1. The eight States are Georgia, see Ga.Code Ann. § 17-10-31.1 (Supp. 1993), Indiana, see Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9 (1993), Maryland, see Md.Ann.Code, Art. 27, § 413(c)(3) (Supp. 1993), Nevada, see Nev.Rev.Stat. § 175.554(2)(c)(2) (1993), Oklahoma, see Okla.Stat., Tit. 21, § 701.10(A) (Supp. 1993), Oregon, see Ore.Rev.Stat. § 163.150 (Supp. 1991), Tennessee, see Tenn.Code Ann. § 39-13-204(a) (Supp. 1993), and Utah, see Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-207(4) (Supp. 1993).

2. The four States are Pennsylvania, see Commonwealth v. Henry, 524 Pa. 135, 159-161, 569 A.2d 929, 941 (1990), Texas, see Jones v. State, 843 S.W.2d 487, 495 (Tex.Crim.App. 1992), Virginia, see Eaton v. Commonwealth, 240 Va. 236, 247-250, 397 S.E.2d 385, 392-393 (1990), and North Carolina, see State v. Brown, 306 N.C. 151, 182-184, 293 S. E.2d 569, 589 (1982), which will alter its practice effective January 1, 1995, see 1993 N.C.Sess. Laws, Ch. 538, § 29.

3. The States that allow the jury to choose between "life without parole" and "death" and have not squarely decided whether the jury should receive information about parole include South Dakota, see S.D.Codified Laws § 24-15-4 (1988), and Wyoming, see Wyo.Stat. § 7-13-402(a) (Supp. 1993).

4. The ten States identified by the parties and their amici are Colorado, see Colo.Rev.Stat. § 16-11-103(1)(b) (Supp. 1993), Florida, see Standard Jury Instructions -- Criminal Cases, Report No. 92-1, 603 So.2d 1175 (1992), Illinois, see People v. Gacho, 122 Ill.2d 221, 262-264, 522 N.E.2d 1146, 1166 (1988), Maryland, see Doering v. State, 313 Md. 384, 545 A.2d 1281 (1988), Mississippi, see Turner v. State, 573 So.2d 657 (Miss. 1990), New Jersey, see State v. Martini, 131 N.J. 176, 312-314, 619 A.2d 1208, 1280 (1993), New Mexico, see State v. Henderson, 109 N. M. 655, 789 P.2d 603 (1990), Nevada, see Petrocelli v. State, 101 Nev. 46, 692 P.2d 503 (1985), Oklahoma, see Humphrey v. State, 864 P.2d 343 (Okla.Crim.App. 1993), Oregon, see Brief for State of Idaho et al. as Amici Curiae 8.

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Chicago: Ginsburg, "Ginsburg, J., Concurring," Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994) in 512 U.S. 154 512 U.S. 175. Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNYJZKEFUGWQ8XX.

MLA: Ginsburg. "Ginsburg, J., Concurring." Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994), in 512 U.S. 154, page 512 U.S. 175. Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNYJZKEFUGWQ8XX.

Harvard: Ginsburg, 'Ginsburg, J., Concurring' in Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994). cited in 1994, 512 U.S. 154, pp.512 U.S. 175. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNYJZKEFUGWQ8XX.