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Update: No victim impact testimony without specific legislative authorization
By Chris Adams
Death Watch columns.
The Wyoming Supreme Court, overturning the capital sentence of Martin Olsen, held victim impact evidence is inadmissible. Olsen v. State, No. 98-63, 4/14/03. The Court reasoned that Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 (1991) (overruling Booth and allowing victim impact testimony) and the dissent in Booth v. Maryland,
482 U.S. 496 (1987) (victim impact evidence violates the Eighth
Amendment) emphasize the role of the legislature in authorizing the
admission of victim impact testimony and victim impact evidence was
never mandated. Since the Wyoming legislature never specifically
authorized the admission of victim impact testimony in capital
sentencing hearings, the courts are not allowed to admit it.
Congratulations to the public defenders in Wyoming for their great work.
Prosecution’s contacting of juror’s family improper
The South Carolina Supreme Court held the prosecution violated James
Bryant’s fair trial right by contacting the potential juror’s family
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