Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

About

This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

Instructions

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E.g., 09/26/2021
E.g., 09/26/2021

The Eighth Amendment does not require courts to instruct capital sentencing juries that mitigating circumstances “need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

Bobby v. Mitts, 563 U.S. 395 (May. 2, 2011)

In a per curiam opinion, the Court reversed a Sixth Circuit decision granting relief to a defendant on grounds that the jury instructions used in his capital trial ran afoul of Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625 (1980) (holding that the death penalty may not be imposed when the jury was not permitted to consider a verdict of guilt of a lesser-included non-capital offense, and when the evidence would have supported such a verdict). The Court concluded that the penalty phase instruction at issue was not invalid under Beck, which dealt with guilt-innocence phase instructions.

Smith v. Spisak, 558 U.S. 139 (Jan. 12, 2010)

Distinguishing Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367 (1988), and holding that the penalty phase jury instructions and verdict forms were not unconstitutional. The defendant had asserted that the instructions improperly required the jury to consider in mitigation only those factors the jury unanimously found to be mitigating.

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