California v. Brown
United States Supreme Court
479 U.S. 538 (1987)
Albert Brown (defendant) was convicted by a jury at a capital trial of forcible rape and first-degree murder. Brown produced 13 character witnesses and testified himself, saying that he was ashamed of what he had done and pleading for mercy from the jury. At the close of evidence, the trial court instructed the jury to consider all aggravating and mitigating factors when determining the proper penalty and directed that the jury “must not be swayed by mere sentiment, conjecture, sympathy, passion, prejudice, public opinion or public feeling.” The jury sentenced Brown to death. On appeal, the California Supreme Court reversed Brown’s death sentence, finding that the court’s instruction denied Brown the right to have the jury consider the sympathy factor raised by the mitigating evidence. The state petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)
Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)
Dissent (Blackmun, J.)
Dissent (Brennan, J.)
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