This case illustrates that courts ought to invoke the general sweep of a constitutional prohibition sparingly in order to avoid gross injustices in particular cases. Only an enormous amount of arrogance could lead the Court to preempt juries, which are infinitely better situated to make these exceedingly sensitive and important (life and death) determinations, and impose a general rule to apply in all cases.
In its feel-good zeal to protect "underage" murderers across the board, the Court issued a blanket rule negating in general what the jury specifically found in this case: that a 17-year-old has the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his murder.
As Justice Scalia noted, it doesn't require a great deal of sophistication to know that murder is wrong. How much less does it take to understand the immorality of the compounding factors involved in this case?
Indeed, the facts of this case obliterate the notion that murderers under the age of 18 lack the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct. Here, for example, the murderers employed a substantial degree of sophistication by consciously considering the reduced likelihood of their escaping the death penalty because of their age.
The Court, in its insulting elitism, presumes to be better positioned than trial courts to protect the rights of criminal defendants. But the record reveals that the trial court employed meticulous safeguards to insure the rights of the defendants -- as trial courts routinely do.
The record shows that the trial court instructed the jury that it could only consider imposing the death penalty if it found aggravating circumstances attending the murder -- just plain vanilla murder won't get you executed.
The jury found not just one instance of aggravating circumstances, but three. The defendant committed the crime for pecuniary gain, to avoid a lawful arrest and with depravity of mind. The jury also found the murder was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible and inhuman: The defendant and his accomplice threw the victim, bound, gagged and conscious off a railroad trestle into a river to drown. In addition, defense counsel argued mitigating factors, particularly the defendant's age, at length, and the jury was instructed to consider them.
The only cruel and unusual punishment inflicted in this case was by the murderers. The only arbitrary judgment rendered in the case was that of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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