03 May 2004

Massachusetts' governor is trying to bring back the death penalty. In order to make it palatable to the citizens of his State he has put a commission together which recommends a number of safeguards:
[R]aising the bar for a death penalty sentence from the normal legal standard of guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" to a finding of "no doubt about the defendant's guilt."

[A] defendant in a capital case be given the option of facing two separate juries: one for trial and, if convicted, a second for sentencing . . . to avoid the contradiction that can arise when a defendant contests his guilt in the first phase of the trial, but in the sentencing phase, in order to get the lightest sentence possible, admits guilt and claims to be remorseful.

[T]he death penalty be applied only to a narrow list of cases and that each case include scientific evidence, like DNA, fingerprints or footprints.

The death penalty would be sought only in the "worst of the worst" murders: torture murders, political terrorism murders, murders of police officers or others in the criminal justice system, and murders of multiple victims.

[P]hysical evidence required would have to "strongly corroborate the defendant's guilt," connecting the defendant either to "the crime scene, the murder weapon or the victim's body."

An independent board would review the scientific evidence.

[T]he judge would be required to give the jury special warnings that nonscientific evidence, like testimony and witness identification, can be unreliable.

[C]ourts get broad authority to set aside wrongful death sentences.

[T]he state attorney general review every decision by a district attorney to bring a capital case.

[A] separate review board investigate claims of errors in death penalty cases.
Could anybody get convicted if all that was incorporated into the law?

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