Delaware Supreme Court Rules State’s Death Penalty Law is Unconstitutional

Justice James T. Vaughn Jr., left, Justice Randy J. Holland and Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr., listen to oral arguments in the Rauf vs State of Delaware. The court is weighing whether Delaware's death penalty statute is constitutional in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of Florida's death penalty sentencing scheme. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jason Minto/The News Journal)
Justice James T. Vaughn Jr., left, Justice Randy J. Holland and Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr., listen to oral arguments in the Rauf vs State of Delaware. The court is weighing whether Delaware’s death penalty statute is constitutional in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of Florida’s death penalty sentencing scheme. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jason Minto/The News Journal)

In a landmark decision, the Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional.

A 148-page opinion released Tuesday afternoon said that the current law is a violation of the Sixth Amendment role of the jury. The decision of whether and how to reinstate the death penalty should now be left to the General Assembly, the opinion said.

The question before the top state court arose after the U.S. Supreme Court found in January that Florida’s death penalty law was unconstitutional because it gave judges — not juries – the final say to impose a death sentence.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Jessica Masulli Reyes