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Criminal Law:
Jones v. United States

Docket Number: 97-9361
Appealed From: U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
Subjects: Criminal sentencing and jury instruction; effects of non-statutory aggravating factors

Argued: February 22, 1999

Decided: June 21, 1999
Vote: 5-4

At Issue: Whether jury instructions must make clear that, if the jury cannot unanimously decide whether to give life imprisonment or a death sentence, the judge will impose life without possibility of parole.

Decision: The court ruled that under the new federal death penalty, jurors considering punishment for a murderer need not be told that if they fail to agree on a death sentence or life imprisonment, the judge will mandate a life sentence rather than some lesser penalty.

The full text of the Jones v. United States decision is available at the FindLaw Internet Legal Resources Web site.

The full text of the 1998 from the 5th Circuit, United States v. Jones, is also available at FindLaw.

Background from The Post
High Court Upholds Broader Death Sentence Law (June 22, 1999)
High Court Cases Explore Death Penalty Appeals (February 23, 1999)

Sources: The Washington Post, Supreme Court, The United States Law Week (a Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. publication)

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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