Capital Sentencing Jurisprudence to Have Consistency Not to Be Imposed Arbitrarily or Capriciously
In Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227, 250-51, 143 L. Ed. 2d 311, 119 S. Ct. 1215 (1999), the Court noted that in its decision in Hildwin v. Florida, 490 U.S. 638, 104 L. Ed. 2d 728, 109 S. Ct. 2055 (1989), in which it concluded that the Sixth Amendment does not require explicit jury findings on aggravating circumstances, "a jury made a sentencing recommendation of death, thus necessarily engaging in the factfinding required for imposition of a higher sentence, that is, the determination that at least one aggravating factor had been proved."
In requiring the jury to consider by majority vote each particular aggravator submitted rather than merely specifying whether one or more aggravators exist, the trial court in this case imposed a greater burden than the one the Supreme Court imposed in reviewing Arizona's judge-only capital sentencing scheme in Ring. But cf. State v. Timmons, 209 Ariz. 403, 103 P.3d 315, 318 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2005) (observing that in State v. Ring, 204 Ariz. 534, 65 P.3d 915 (Ariz. 2003), the Arizona Supreme Court construed the United States Supreme Court decision in Ring as requiring a jury finding on each aggravating factor supporting a death sentence).
Allowing a trial court to require jury findings on individual aggravators also creates a potential inconsistency in capital sentencing proceedings.
The State would face different burdens for obtaining a sentence of death in different courts, or even in the same court before different judges.
Innovation regarding the jury's penalty-phase determinations cannot be accomplished with such an ad hoc approach.
One critical concern reflected in the United States Supreme Court's capital sentencing jurisprudence is consistency. See, e.g., Lewis v. Jeffers, 497 U.S. 764, 774, 111 L. Ed. 2d 606, 110 S. Ct. 3092 (1990) (stating that the principle that the death penalty cannot be arbitrarily or capriciously imposed requires a State to "channel the sentencer's discretion by 'clear and objective standards' that provide 'specific and detailed guidance,' and that 'make rationally reviewable the process for imposing a sentence of death'") (quoting Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U.S. 420, 428, 64 L. Ed. 2d 398, 100 S. Ct. 1759 (1980) (plurality opinion));