Monday, April 25, 2005

People v. Roldan

The Court today unanimously upheld the death sentence given to Ricardo Roland for a 1990 murder-robbery at a southern California swap meet. While no novel legal issues were discussed, the 121-page opinion provides an interesting description of the difficulties faced by court-appointed defense counsel in capital cases.

The opinion also briefly discussed an objection to the prosecutor's use of biblical references during the penalty phase. Although the defendant did not properly preserve the issue for appeal, the Court's brief discussion of it seemed to be an attempt to send a message that this practice constitutes misconduct. This is not the first time in recent capital cases that the Court has discussed this practice, which appears to be fairly common. The Colorado Supreme Court, in a decision that received significant news coverage, recently overturned a defendant's death sentence based on improper biblical references by the prosecutor.

The Court's opinion is available here.

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