Skip to comments.NJ Court Axes New Death Penalty Rules
Posted on 10/24/2006 9:53:00 AM PDT by SmithL
New Jersey prosecutors no longer have to prove a defendant is mentally fit to be executed, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The decision shifts the burden of proving mental retardation to defendants trying to avoid death penalty, putting New Jersey in line with most other states.
The ruling likely won't affect any of the state's nine death row inmates anytime soon. New Jersey reinstated the death penalty in 1982 but has a moratorium on executions while a legislative panel evaluates capital cases. Its last execution was in 1963.
Tuesday's decision stemmed from the case of Porfirio Jimenez, a Honduran day laborer in prison on charges he sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy before murdering him in 2001. Jimenez's lawyers claimed he was mentally retarded, with an IQ of 68.
A 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared executing mentally retarded criminals to be a violation of the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but it left it to states to decide whether the burden of proof about a defendant's mental status lies with the prosecution or defense.
In its ruling Tuesday, the New Jersey high court's majority likened a claim of mental retardation to a claim of insanity, which is considered an "affirmative defense" and has to be proved by the defendant.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
Lets hope this has a profound ripple effect.
Actually, this tends to bring NJ in line with most other states.
They will still do that, but now the Defense has to prove they're crazy instead of the prosecution proving they're sane.
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