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Ring V. Arizona Case Brief Essay

1533 words - 7 pages

Ring v. Arizona122 S Ct 2428 (2002)Facts of the case:On November 28, 1994, The body of an armored van driver was found dead inside the vehicle. Also, there was more than $800,000 missing from the van leading police to believe that this was a robbery and homicide case. There were no witnesses to the crime except a local bystander who stated that two vehicles, a van and a red truck were speeding down the road earlier that day and had neglected to stop at the intersection where there is a stop sign posted.Based on a tip, police were able to locate the red pickup truck and it's owner, Timothy Ring. Police then listened to Timothy Ring's phone conversations and quickly learned that he was ...view middle of the document...

" The judge then sentenced Ring to the death penalty.Upon automatic appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the sentence. The case was then appealed to the US Supreme Court.Issue before the US Supreme Court:As to the right to a jury trial under the sixth amendment, as made applicable to the states through the fourteenth amendment, may a judge alone determine aggravating factors necessary to impose a death sentence?Holding:NoReasoning:Capital defendants, no less than noncapital defendants, are entitled to a jury determination of any fact on which the legislature conditions an increase in their maximum punishment.The US Supreme Court's Decision:The Supreme Court decided that juries rather than judges must make the determinations that subject a convicted murder to the death penalty. This was decided on a 7 to 2 decision.Justice Ginsburg explained the decision for the Ring case. She stated that it is unusual for the court not to follow its past decisions."But the doctrine is not unyielding: we have overturned prior decisions when there is strong reason for setting the law straight. This is such a case," she said.The Apprendi decision dictated its application to the death sentence context, stating:"The right to trial by jury guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment would be senselessly diminished if it encompassed the fact-finding necessary to increase a defendant's sentence by two years, but not the fact-finding necessary to put him to death".Justice Ginsburg concluded that the Sixth Amendment applies to both.Significance:This case set forth the precedent that juries, not the judge, will have the ability to exercise their discretion when deciding aggravating factors which could lead to the enforcement of the death penalty.This decision is also significant because it invalidated death penalty laws of five states and cast doubt on the laws of four others.It also overturned the 1990 U. S. Supreme Court decision in Walton v Arizona.In 1990, the Supreme Court case Walton v. Arizona upheld Arizona's death sentence law over the appeal that it was unconstitutional, and thus, violated the Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury. Then, in 2000, the Supreme Court case Apprendi v. New Jersey ruled that a judge had inappropriately lengthened a man's sentence after the jury was dismissed. The Court overturned the sentence, saying the trial judge using his information to increase the sentence should have been decided by a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.Dissenting Opinions:Both the chief justice Rehnquist and justice O'Connor had the only dissenting opinions. They stated that Apprendi, not Walton, should have been overruled. Justice O'Connor said:"Defendant's death sentence required the judge's factual findings. If Arizona prevailed on its opening argument, Apprendi would be reduced to a meaningless and formalistic rule of statutory drafting. This need to evaluate death penalty claims will greatly burden the courts in five states."At the time of this case,...

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