Will a Jury Disregard Mitigating Evidence Which Evokes Sympathy When Instructed That It Can Not Consider Sympathy In Deliberations ?
In Saffle v. Parks, 494 U.S. 484, 108 L. Ed. 2d 415, 110 S. Ct. 1257 (1990), the Court specifically rejected an argument identical to the one urged in this case, that the jury would erroneously disregard any mitigating evidence which evoked its sympathy once instructed that it could not consider sympathy in its deliberations. Id. at 492.
In rejecting Park's argument, the Supreme Court noted:
This argument misapprehends the distinction between allowing the jury to consider mitigating evidence and guiding their consideration.
It is no doubt constitutionally permissible, if not constitutionally required, or the State to insist that "the individualized assessment of the appropriateness of the death penalty be a moral inquiry into the culpability of the defendant, and not an emotional response to the mitigating evidence." Id. at 492-93.