ATTORNEY GENERAL STRANGE: VICTORY FOR RULE OF LAW AS U.S. SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO HEAR CHALLENGES TO ALABAMA’S DEATH PENALTY SENTENCING SYSTEM

Alabama’s Death Chamber

(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Luther Strange said the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear petitions by three Alabama death row inmates challenging the constitutionality of the State’s capital sentencing law is another victory for the rule of law.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari petitions from Thomas Arthur, Jerry Bohannon, and Aubrey Shaw, challenging Alabama’s death penalty system in light of the 2016 Hurst v. Florida case, is a reaffirmation that Alabama’s death sentencing law is constitutional,” said Attorney General Luther Strange.

“Convicted murders have repeatedly challenged Alabama’s death penalty sentencing system because it allows for judicial override similar to Florida’s law. However, Alabama law also holds that a jury must unanimously find an aggravating factor at either the guilt or sentencing phase—such as when the murder was committed during a robbery, a rape, or a kidnapping – before determining a death sentence. This is a significant distinction between Alabama law and Florida’s law which was ruled unconstitutional last year by the Supreme Court.

“Alabama’s death penalty law was specifically upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Harris v. Alabama in 1995, and, as we witnessed again today, the High Court has consistently declined to take challenges to Alabama’s law based on the same grounds in which Florida’s law was contested.

“It should, therefore, be clear to all that Alabama’s death penalty sentencing system is constitutional.”

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