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Darden v. Wainwright

477 U.S. 168 (1986)

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Darden v. Wainwright

United States Supreme Court

477 U.S. 168 (1986)

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Facts

Darden was convicted of robbing a furniture store owned by a husband and wife. He killed the husband, shot a neighbor who tried to help the husband, and sexually assaulted the wife. At trial, the defense was allowed to present its closing argument first. The prosecutor then presented his closing which contained several improper and inflammatory comments. The defense was then allowed to rebut the prosecution’s closing. After Darden’s conviction, the jury recommended the death penalty which the judge then imposed. On appeal, Darden argued that the prosecution’s remarks during closing argument made his trial unfair and the resulting sentence unreliable. The court found that the prosecution’s comments had not made the trial unfair and affirmed Darden’s conviction and death sentence. The Supreme Court granted certiorari but later dismissed the writ. Darden again petitioned for habeas corpus but was denied. Darden filed an application for a stay of execution. The Supreme Court treated this as a petition for certiorari, granted certiorari, and stayed Darden’s execution.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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