Death Penalty

Alabama's new governor signs bill ending judicial override in capital cases

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Kay Ivey

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Alabama’s new governor, Kay Ivey, signed a bill on Tuesday that eliminates the ability of judges to override juries’ recommendations in capital cases.

The law eliminates judicial override but allows juries to recommend the death penalty by a 10-2 vote, reports. Alabama is the only state that allows jurors to impose the death penalty based on a nonunanimous vote.

Ivey replaced Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned on Monday and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign finance violations.

Alabama was the last state to authorize judicial override, which mostly was used by judges to impose the death penalty when juries recommended life without parole.

Out of 112 cases in which judicial override was used, judges used the provision to impose the death penalty in 101 cases, according to findings by the Equal Justice Initiative. The statistics covered the years 1978 to 2016, according to a prior story by the Montgomery Advertiser.

The Alabama Supreme Court upheld judicial override last October. The court said judicial override did not violate the right to a jury trial because jurors still determine whether aggravating factors make a defendant eligible for the death penalty.

Related articles: “Alabama Supreme Court upholds judicial override in capital cases” “Alabama judge sees ‘life-to-death override epidemic,’ bars death sentences; Florida bill changes law”

See also: “Unanimous jury vote is required to impose death penalty, Florida Supreme Court rules”

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