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An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, by Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)

By Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)

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Georgia, the court has never again considered the constitutionality of capital punishment itself. They have not revisited the question of whether all state supported executions violate the Eighth Amendment. They have focused their attention instead on its application. ”19 In the Woodson decision and especially in Lockett v. Ohio,20 the court suggests that the Constitution requires that sentencers be offered a full picture of the defendant. ” Yet it may be argued that in a number of cases discussed here, the failure of attorneys to present evidence in mitigation deprived juries of just such humanizing information about the person on trial for his life.

She had been stabbed to death and was apparently the victim of an attempted rape. Six months later, after he tried to rape another woman, Breard was arrested and charged with Dickie’s murder. 2 There was strong physical evidence against Breard. Hair, blood, and bodily fluid samples found at the scene of the Dickie murder were subjected to DNA analysis and were found to match his type. 42 A n A m e r i ca n D i l e m m a But even with this evidence and with several attempted rape charges, the Commonwealth’s Attorney offered Breard a plea bargain—life in prison in exchange for a guilty plea.

The state law in question here was one which set a 30-day deadline for a prisoner to file a notice of appeal. Coleman’s notice had arrived on the thirty-third day. ”38 Several times, the court expressed the concern that without procedural default, the state would not have the opportunity to address and correct any violations of the prisoner’s rights. ”39 And, in addition to comity, the court was concerned about finality. A cost of the writ of habeas corpus was the cost to finality in criminal litigation.

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