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July 03, 1976 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily, 1976-07-03

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Seturdc v July 3, 1976

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Eleven

,r ,

High Court upholds death penalty

(Continued from Page 1)
"We now hold that the pun-
ishment of death does not in-
variably violate the Constitu-
tion" he said.
WHITE CONCURRED in a
separate opinion. Douglas re-
tired from the court in Novem-
ber and an aide said he would
have no comment on Friday's
decision.
Voting with Stewart and White
- to uphold both the death
penalty for murder in general
and the three specific state
laws - were Chief Justice War-
ren Burger and Justices William
Rehnquist, Lewis Powell Jr.,
John Paul Stevens and Harcy
Blackmun.
Justices William Brennan Jr.
and Thurgood Marshall, the
only members of the court to
say flatly in 1972 that capital
punishment was unconstitution-
al, expressed that view again.
STEVENS, WHO succeeded
Douglas on the court, joined in
striking down the two manda-
tory laws. With him in the ma-
jority were Stewart, Powell,
Brennan and Marshall.
It will probably take a series
of test cases to determine which
states' laws are adequate and
which are not.
The main opinion, again writ-
ten by Stewart, left open the
possibility that mandatory death
penalty laws which were nar-
rower in scope might be con-
stitutional.
"THIS CASE does not involve
a mandatory death penalty sta-
lote limited to an extremely
narrow category of homicide,
such as murder by a prisoner
serving a life sentence, defined
in large part in terms of the
character or record of the of-
feinder," Stewart wrote.
"We thus express no opinion
regarding the constitutionality
if s-ich a statute."

Elsewhere in the complex set
of opinions, Stewart said that
"a prisoner serving a life sen-
tence presents a unique problem
that may justify such a law."
STEWART SAID the court's
decision was "concerned ... only
with the imposition of capital
punishment for the crime of
murder."
"We do not address here the
question of whether the taking
of the criminal's life is a pro-
portionate sanction where no
victim has been deprived of life
- for example, when capital
punishment is imposed for rape,
kidnapping or armed robbery
that does not result in the death
of any human being."
The Supreme Court has ruled
previously that a punishment
can be cruel and unusual be-
cause it is disproportionate to
the crime. The court yesterday
left open the possibility that the
death penalty for other offenses
could be rejected on the grounds
the court refused to invoke in
the case of murderers.
OF 63 PERSONS who were on
death row according to a re-
cent count at least 43 were con-
demned for nonfatal crimes
such as rape or kidnaping and
robbery.
No one has been executed in
the United States since June
1967 when Luis Monge was as-
phyxiated in the Colorado gas
chamber for killing his pregnant
wife and three of their ten
children.
Prosecutors and defense law-
yers agreed it could be months
before anyone is actually exe-
ruled. Texas officials said the
clemency and appeals of other
elements of the sentencing. No
plans had been made yet for
executions.
THE COURT'S decisions yes-

terday specifically upheld the
death sentences of Charles Wil-
liam Proffitt, 30, of Tampa,
Fla., Troy Leon Gregg, 27, who
was convicted on a charge of
murder, and Jerry Lane Jurek,
27, both of Cuero, Tex.
It set aside the sentences giv-
en to Stanislaus Roberts, 28,
for the murder of a Lake Char-
les, La., service-station attend-
ant and Luby Waxton and Jam-
es Woodson for the slaying of
a food store clerk in Dunn,
NC.
Proffitt, a warehouseman for
a Tampa department store, was
convicted of stabbing a high-
school wrestling coach to death
during a burglary. Jurek was
sentenced to the electric chair
for strangling a ten-year-old girl
and throwing her body into the
Guadalupe River. Gregg was
sentenced for the fatal shooting
of two men who picked him up
as he hitchhiked along a Geor-
gia highway.
THE GEORGIA and Florida
laws, which were upheld, pro-
vide for juries and judges to
consider aggravating and miti-
gating circumstances before de-
cisions on whether the death
penalty should be imposed. In
Florida both the aggravating
and mitigating circumstances
are spelled. out in the law but
in Georgia the law specifies on-
ly the aggravating factors.
The Texas law makes either
life imprisonment or the elec-
tric chair mandatory for sev-
eral categories of murder. In
order to impose the death pen-

alty a jury must find that the
killing was deliberate and that
the defendant is a danger to
society.
If the defense offers evidence
to show provocation, the jury
must also find that the killing
was not a reasonable response
to the provocation.
STEWART SAID the Georgia
sentencing procedures "require
as a prerequisite to the imposi-
tion of the death penalty spe-
cific jury finding as to the cir-
cumstances of the crime or the
character of the defendant."
le said the basic difference
between the Florida system and
the Georgia system is that in
Florida the sentence is deter-
,mined by the trial judge rather
than by the jury.
"It would appear that judicial
sentencing should lead, if any-
thing, to ever greater consisten-
cy in the imposition at the trial
court level of capital punish-
ment," Stewart said for the
court.
THE COURT rejected argu-
ments that the law was too
vague because it required a
jury or judge to decide such
things as whether there are
"sufficient" aggravating circum-
stances which are not outweigh-
ed by mitigating factors.
"While these questions and de-
cisions may be hard, they re-
quire no more line-drawing than
is commonly required of a fact-
finder in a lawsuit," the opin-
ion said.
Similarly in dealing with the
Texas law the court rejected
an argument that a jury could
not be expected to know wheth-

er a defendant would be a dan-
ger to soriety in the future.
"IT IS, OF COURSE, not easy
to predict future behavior," the
opinion said. "The fact that
such a determination is difficult
however, does not mean that
it cannot be made. Indeed, pre-
diction of future criminal con-
duct is an essential element in
many of the decisions rendered
throughout our criminal justice
system."
Stewart's opinion said the fact
that so many state legislatures
have enacted new death penalty
laws disproves the contention
that the penalty is unacceptable
to the American people.
"A heavy burden rests on
those who would attack the
judgment of the representatives
of the people," he said.
"In part capital punishment
is an expression of society's
moral outrage at particularly
offensive conduct. This function
may be unappealing to many,
but it is essential in an ordered
society that asks its citizens to
rely on legal processes rather
than self-help to vindicate their
wrongs."
The opinion cited FBI figures
showing that murders increased
almost ten per cent in the three
years following the 1972 deci-
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U.s.m clean up
Taamsters' pension
(Continued from Page a) bor Department in all matters
Javits, the committee's rank- involving pension funds.
ini Republican, said a recent "WE HAVE called that to the
federal law requires the IRS to attention of all concerned," Ja-
share its tax files with the La- vita said. "They have heard us
loud and clear."
Sen. Richard Schweiker, (R-
O eSS Pa.), the second ranking Re-
publican on the committee, also
said he was "favorably im-
pressed" with the testimony of
f e d e r a 1 investigators.
They seem to be handling things
(Continued from Page 3) in a competent way," he said.
mnemployment, which jumped
to 16.9 weeks, equal to the re-
cession high of last December.

at*5
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50c DISCOUNT on Admission
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EdA E~MEM ___fE~ ifa

Among adult men, unemploy-
ment rose from 5.6 per cent in
May to 6 per cent in June; for
women, from 6.8 to 7.1 per cent;
for whites, from 6.6 to 6.8 per
cent, and for blacks, from 12.2
to 13.3 per cent. Teen-age un-
employment remained unchang-
ed at about 18.4 per cent.
Unemployment among con-
struction workers rose to 17 per
cent, up from 14.1 per cent in
May, and the jobless rate for
blue collar craft workers climb-
ed 7.3 per cent, up from 6.2 per
cent. Manuafcturing employ-
ment fell slightly for the sec-
ond consecutive month.
THlE RISE of two-tenths of
1 per cent in the over-all job-
less rate was the biggest month-
ly increase since last May,
when the rate climbed three-
tenths of 1 per cent to a total
of 8.9 per cent, the highest job-
less level during the recession.

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