June 23, 2016

Supreme Court affirms death sentence, with a concurring opinion about a Batson issue

The Supreme Court today unanimously affirms the death sentence in People v. Sánchez.  The death penalty was imposed for, among other things, the murder of a police officer.  As is typical of decisions in these automatic direct appeals, the court’s opinion — by Justice Ming Chin for himself and five others — rejects a host of arguments, although it does reverse the conviction on one of 26 robbery counts.

Justice Goodwin Liu writes a separate concurring opinion, about two issues he says “are ripe for reconsideration by this court” — the way to evaluate allegations based on Batson that the prosecution racially discriminated in jury selection and instructing the jury about the reliability of eyewitness identification evidence.  Justice Liu has expressed his differences about Batson issues before.

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