SB 758 Provides a method for judicial consideration of whether race played a role in decisions to impose or seek the death penalty
Sponsor: Chappelle-Nadal
LR Number: 4563S.01I Fiscal Notes
Committee: Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence
Last Action: 1/11/2016 - Second Read and Referred S Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Journal Page: S99
Title: Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2016

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Current Bill Summary


SB 758 - Under current law, the Supreme Court must determine whether each death sentence was imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice or other arbitrary factor, whether the evidence supports the judge or jury's findings, and whether the sentence is proportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases. This act also requires the Supreme Court to consider whether race was a significant factor in the decision to seek the death penalty against the defendant or in other decisions to seek or impose the death penalty in the state or county or judicial circuit in which the defendant was prosecuted or tried at the time the sentence was sought or imposed.

This act states that no person shall be sentenced to death or executed under any judgement that was sought or obtained on the basis of race.

In addition, this act allows a defendant to file a motion before the first or second stage of a first degree murder trial in which the death penalty was not waived upon the ground the racial considerations played a significant part in the decision to seek the death penalty. A person who was sentenced to death on or after August 28, 2016 may file the motion as a post-conviction motion, and the procedures that apply to other motions to set aside death sentences apply. A person who was sentenced to death prior to August 28, 2016 may file the motion by August 28, 2017.

The defendant has the burden of proof. The state may offer rebuttal evidence.

A finding that race was a significant factor in the decision to seek or impose the death penalty is established if the court finds that race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the death penalty in the state or the county or judicial circuit in which the defendant was prosecuted or tried. Evidence may include evidence that the death penalty was sought or imposed more frequently upon persons of one race or race was a significant factor in peremptory challenges during jury selection.

If the court finds that race was a significant factor in the decision to seek or impose the death penalty, the court must order the death sentence not be sought or that the sentence be vacated and the defendant be resentenced to life without parole.

MEGHAN LUECKE