Law: A Jury's Burden

Taking death seriously

Bobby Caldwell had been convicted of killing a grocery store owner in the course of a robbery, and a Mississippi jury was deciding his fate. After pleading for Caldwell's life, his lawyer concluded rather conventionally by telling the jurors that theirs was an "awesome responsibility." The prosecutor then rose and, surprisingly, challenged this cliche. The jurors' burden was not so great, he implied, since every death sentence is reviewable by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The jury voted for death.

Because of the prosecutor's remarks, the U.S. Supreme Court last week vacated that sentence by a 5-to-3 vote. The jury's decision in...

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