Location:
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT;

OLR Research Report


March 12, 2009

 

2009-R-0151

PROPOSED CHANGES TO DEATH PENALTY LAWS IN 2007 AND 2008

By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney

You asked for information on bills or amendments that proposed changes to the death penalty laws in 2007 and 2008.

We found three bills and 11 amendments that proposed changes to the death penalty laws during the 2007 and 2008 regular legislative sessions and the January 2008 Special Session. We also found one proposal considered by the Judiciary Committee at a hearing in November 2007 while the General Assembly was not in session. Of these 15 bills, amendments, and proposals, seven would have repealed the death penalty, five would have reformed post-conviction proceedings (appeals, habeas corpus petitions, and DNA testing), two would have changed provisions of the death penalty sentencing hearing, and one would have expanded the crime of capital felony.

The table below displays these bills, amendments, and proposals organized by year. It provides a brief explanation of each as well as information on any legislative action taken on them.

Bill of Amendment

Summary

Status

2007 Regular Session

SB 1027

The bill (1) places more weight on mitigating factors concerning the defendant's character and the nature and circumstances of the crime and less weight on those concerning the defendant's history or background when determining whether to impose the death penalty in a sentencing hearing and (2) limits the bars to imposing the death penalty to only that the defendant was under age 18 or was mentally retarded at the time of the offense.

Proposed bill, no action

HB 7365

The bill requires the court, in a death penalty sentencing hearing, to discharge the jury and sentence the defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of release if the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict.

Judiciary Committee JF, no action by House

Amendment LCO 7287

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Uncalled

Amendment LCO 7464

The amendment (1) sets deadlines in post-conviction proceedings in death penalty cases (appeals and habeas corpus petitions), (2) sets conditions for subsequent habeas petitions, (3) requires designation of a single judge for death penalty habeas applications, and (4) loosens the standards governing death row prisoners' requests for DNA testing.

Uncalled

Amendment LCO 7966

The amendment (1) sets deadlines in post-conviction proceedings in death penalty cases (appeals and habeas corpus petitions), (2) sets conditions for subsequent habeas petitions, (3) requires designation of a single judge for death penalty habeas applications, and (4) loosens the standards governing death row prisoners' requests for DNA testing.

Uncalled

Amendment LCO 7999

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Called as House “A,” ruled not germane

Amendment LCO 8840

The amendment (1) requires the courts to track requests for hearings for DNA testing by those sentenced to death, (2) sets deadlines in post-conviction proceedings in death penalty cases (appeals and habeas corpus petitions), (3) sets conditions for subsequent habeas petitions, (4) requires designation of a single judge for death penalty habeas applications, and (5) loosens the standards governing death row prisoners' requests for DNA testing.

Uncalled

Amendment LCO 9012

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Uncalled

Bill of Amendment

Summary

Status

Amendment LCO 9014

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Uncalled

Amendment LCO 9039

The amendments expands the crime of capital felony by adding offenses that include an element of using or attempting or threatening to use physical force against someone when the offender uses a stolen firearm.

Called as House “D,” failed by a vote of 11 to 138

Judiciary Committee November 27, 2007 Hearing

Proposal No. 5

Among other things, the proposal (1) sets deadlines in post-conviction proceedings in death penalty cases (appeals and habeas corpus petitions), (2) sets conditions for subsequent habeas petitions, (3) requires designation of a single judge for death penalty habeas applications, and (4) loosens the standards governing death row prisoners' requests for DNA testing.

One of proposals heard at Judiciary Committee hearing (while the legislature was not in session)

January 2008 Special Session

Amendment LCO 10100

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Called as House “D”, failed by a vote of 49 to 89

2008 Regular Session

SB 320

The bill (1) sets deadlines in post-conviction proceedings in death penalty cases (appeals and habeas corpus petitions), (2) sets conditions for subsequent habeas petitions, and (3) requires designation of a single judge for death penalty habeas applications.

Judiciary Committee public hearing, no further action

Amendment LCO 4968

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Uncalled

Amendment LCO 5580

The amendment repeals the death penalty by (1) converting all existing death sentences to life without possibility of release and (2) replacing the crime of capital felony with the crime of murder with special circumstances punishable only by life without possibility of release without an option of imposing a death sentence.

Uncalled

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