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Pulley v. Harris
United States Supreme Court
465 U.S. 37, 104 S. Ct. 871, 79 L. Ed. 2d 29 (1984)
Harris (defendant) received a death sentence from a California court. The California death-penalty statute did not require comparative proportionality review, which requires a court to compare death sentences to the sentences imposed for similar crimes. The statute did require proof of aggravating circumstances before a death sentence could be imposed. The statute also provided for mandatory judicial review of a jury’s findings in order to make an independent determination that the sentence was supported by the evidence. The judge was required to state on the record reasons for denying modification of the jury’s sentence. The California statute granted an automatic appeal for all death sentences. Harris appealed to the California Supreme Court, which upheld the state’s death-penalty statute. Harris’s first appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied certiorari. Harris filed for habeas corpus relief in federal court. The district court denied relief. The court of appeals issued a writ to the California Supreme Court, requiring the sentence to be vacated unless it conducted a proportionality review. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)
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