Delaware justices to hear arguments on death penalty law

AP News
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Posted: Apr 25, 2016 2:35 PM

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware's Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on the constitutionality of the state's death penalty.

The court has asked the attorney general's office and state public defender's office to prepare for arguments June 15.

The court agreed in January to answer questions from Delaware's Superior Court to determine whether the state's death penalty law meets constitutional muster. Meanwhile, all death penalty trials in Delaware are on hold.

Questions were raised about the constitutionality of Delaware's law after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year struck down Florida's death penalty sentencing statute. That statute required a judge, not a jury, to find the factual existence of an "aggravating circumstance" making a defendant eligible for the death penalty.

Delaware's law is similar to Florida's, but prosecutors argue that it nevertheless is constitutional.