California v. Ramos

In California v. Ramos, 463 U.S. 992, 103 S.Ct. 3446, 77 L.Ed.2d 1171 (1983), the Court upheld as constitutional a California law requiring that a jury in a capital case be instructed of the governor's power to commute a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The Court made clear that while such disclosure is constitutionally permissible it is not constitutionally required. It also upheld the failure or refusal of the trial court to instruct the jury on the governor's power to commute a death sentence. In arriving at its decision, the Court noted: "our conclusion is not intended to override the contrary judgment of state legislatures that capital sentencing juries in their state should not be permitted to consider the governor's power to commute a sentence." In footnote 30 the Court stated that "many state courts have held it improper for the jury to consider or to be informed--through argument or instruction--of the possibility of commutation, pardon or parole." Id. at 103 S.Ct. at 3459.