(Phoenix, Ariz. – June 24, 2004) Attorney General Terry Goddard commended the United States Supreme Court on its decision today not to retroactively require jury resentencing for all death penalty cases in Arizona that have exhausted their direct appeals.
The decision handed down today in Summerlin v. Schriro stems from an earlier case, Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), in which the Supreme Court struck down the provision of Arizona’s capital sentencing statute that permitted judges, rather than juries, to find aggravating circumstances. In the Summerlin case, the Attorney General’s Office challenged a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision holding that the Ring decision should apply retroactively to cases that have already completed the direct appeal stage.
“The Supreme Court spared the victims and their families from having to relive these cases in court,” Goddard said. “This decision closes this chapter in the death penalty arena — Ring provided new sentencing rules for courts to follow going forward. It does not affect the cases already decided.”
Assistant Attorney General John Todd argued the case on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office. Please visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.azag.gov to read the opinion in its entirety.
[website update: Opinion is attached below.]