More importantly, it seems ludicrous to argue that the finding of a sentencing aggravator
in a capital case could ever be "harmless"; that finding quite literally represents the difference between life and death for the defendant.
260) In the model reviewed by Judge Baime, there were sixteen possible categories, tracking the sixteen New Jersey statutory aggravators
, with each category further divided from two to seven subcategories, for a total of fifty-six categories and subcategories.
The court found the "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" aggravator
They have overread Ring as reserving for juries the finding and weighing of mitigators, even though Ring's rationale is limited to the initial aggravator
that raises the maximum to death.
Prior to Apprendi, it may have made sense for a defendant guilty of the single offense but innocent of the aggravator
to plead guilty and try to head off the longer sentence at sentencing.
The bottom line is that Florida is now the only state in the country that allows the death penalty to be imposed even though the penalty-phase jury may determine by a mere majority vote both whether aggravators
exist and whether to recommend the death penalty," Cantero wrote.
On this view, the various permutations of the cruelty aggravator
refer to the "defendant's inner wickedness," which arguably is not an appropriate concern of the state:
125) Under the former system, if a statutory aggravator
was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a sentence of life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of twenty years was imposed.
A second Georgia case illustrates that even when the aggravator
passes constitutional muster, the court and the jury can misapply it.
Jim McDonald does his best to stir up the situation by telling Barlow he'll be behind bars for life, but Carla is convinced her ex is innocent.
And if that isn't enough, think of the Vermont dairy farmers running their operations on "cow power," electricity generated from methane in their herds' manure-otherwise a potent global warming aggravator
53) Regardless of the jurisdiction or particular statutory construction, the Supreme Court has mandated that at least one statutory aggravator
must be found prior to imposing the death penalty.