ARS 13-1101(1) Interpretation

The Court addressed the constitutionality of 13- 1101(1) in, State v. Thompson, 201 Ariz. 273, 34 P.3d 382 (App. 2001). The Court determined that the statute, while constitutional on its face, was nevertheless unconstitutionally vague because of the judicial construction of the statute by the Arizona Supreme Court to the effect that premeditation could be "as instantaneous as successive thoughts of the mind." Id. at P27, 34 P.3d at 389-90. the Court affirmed the conviction, however, because the offending "instantaneous" language was not introduced into the case in any way and the Thompson defendant was convicted solely using the constitutional portion of the statute. Id. at P41, 34 P.3d at 392. In Thompson, the defendant contended that the premeditation statute was unconstitutionally vague on its face. Id. at, P16, 34 P.3d at 387. The majority rejected that argument, stating that "a fair reading of the statute, combined with a common-sense consideration of how jurors perform their function, demonstrates that the time period employed by the statute to describe premeditation has enough substance to provide a workable method for distinguishing between degrees of murder." Id. at P16, 34 P.3d at 387. The majority could have ended its analysis there, as it concluded that any defect in the statute, created by Hutton, 143 Ariz. 386, 389, 694 P.2d 216, 219 (1985), could not have infected the proceedings against the defendant. Id. at, PP33, 41, 34 P.3d at 390, 392. Instead, the majority unnecessarily went on to discuss how the language in Hutton, in other circumstances, rendered the statute unconstitutional. Id. at, PP25-32, 34 P.3d at 389-90.