The Death Penalty in the United States

A Complete Guide to Federal and State Laws, 2d ed.


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About the Book

The death penalty landscape has changed considerably since the 1998 first edition of this book. For example, six states that had the death penalty—Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York—no longer impose the punishment. Some of the changes set out in this second edition involve discussions of all of the significant cases decided by the United States Supreme Court after 1998, including Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005); Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002); Schriro v. Smith, 126 S.Ct. 7 (2005); Harbison v. Bell, 129 S.Ct. 1481 (2009); Holmes v. South Carolina, 126 S.Ct. 1727 (2006); Kansas v. Marsh, 126 S.Ct. 2516 (2006); Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002); Sattazahn v. Pennsylvania, 537 U.S. 101 (2003).
This new edition includes 13 new chapters. They cover such topics as capital felon’s defense team; habeas corpus, coram nobis and section 1983 proceedings; the Innocence protection act and post-conviction DNA testing; challenging the death sentence under racial justice acts; inhabited American territories; and the costs of capital punishment.

About the Author(s)

Louis J. Palmer, Jr., former attorney for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, is the author of numerous reference works on criminal justice. He lives in Poinciana, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Louis J. Palmer, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 400
Bibliographic Info: tables, appendix, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7660-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0579-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Boxes vii
Introduction 1

Part I. General Considerations
1. The Common Law and Capital Punishment 5
2. The Eighth Amendment and Furman v. Georgia 10
3. Double Jeopardy and Ex Post Facto 29
4. Right to Counsel and Right to Remain Silent 42
5. Capital Felon’s Defense Team 52

Part II. Initiating Capital Prosecutions
6. Charging Discretion of a Prosecutor 59
7. Capital Murder Charging Instruments 65
8. Death Penalty Notice Requirements 74
9. Prosecuting a Nontriggerman 77
10. Foreign Nationals and Capital Punishment 84

Part III. Court Proceedings
11. Death-Eligible Offenses 91
12. Determining Guilt Before Penalty Phase Hearing 107
13. Structure and Nature of Penalty Phase 120
14. Statutory Aggravating Circumstances 135
15. Mitigating Circumstances 148
16. Penalty Phase Burden of Proof 160

Part IV. Post-Conviction Proceedings
17. Automatic Appellate Review of Death Sentence 167
18. Habeas Corpus, Coram Nobis and Section 1983 Proceedings 184
19. The Innocence Protection Act and Post-Conviction DNA Testing 200
20. Challenging Death Sentence Under Racial Justice Acts 205

Part V. Laws Related to Execution
21. Barriers to Execution 209
22. Death Row 225
23. Witnessing an Execution 231
24. Execution Methods and Corpse Disposal 238

Part VI. Other Capital Punishment Issues
25. Military Death Penalty Laws 257
26. Native Americans and Capital Punishment 263
27. Inhabited American Territories and Capital Punishment 272
28. Opposition to Capital Punishment 276
29. The Costs of Capital Punishment 285

Appendix: State and Federal Death Penalty Laws 289
Glossary of Legal Terms 351
Chapter Notes 356
Bibliography 378
Index 383

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Palmer’s work is certainly the most current and possibly the most comprehensive title available…recommended”—Library Journal
  • “Valuable…highly recommended”—Choice
  • “Clear and coherent guide…highly recommended”—ARBA.