Are Evidence About Defendant's Character Admissible at the Sentencing Stage ?
In Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586, 98 S. Ct. 2954, 57 L. Ed. 2d 973 (1978), the United States Supreme Court held that the sentencer must "not be precluded from considering, as a mitigating factor, any aspect of a defendant's character or record and any of the circumstances of the offense that the defendant proffers as a basis for a sentence less than death." Id. at 604 (plurality opinion).
The Supreme Court of Florida has held that Lockett requires the "admission of evidence that establishes facts relevant to the defendant's character, his prior record, and the circumstances of the offense in issue." Hess v. State, 794 So. 2d 1249, 1269 (Fla. 2001) (quoting Herring v. State, 446 So.2d 1049, 1056 (Fla.1984), receded from on other grounds by Rogers v. State, 511 So. 2d 526, 533 (Fla.1987)).