U.S. v. Fell (D VT 2016) Constitutionality of the Death Penalty

The court feeling constrained to deny the defense motions attacking the constitutionality of the death penalty, expressed substantial concerns: "The court returns to the question it asked at the beginning of the opinion. Has actual experience borne out the promise for a more reliable system of capital punishment expressed in the Gregg decision? The evidence produced for the court answers the question in the negative. These findings and the fuller record of the hearing conducted before the court substantiate the questions and the criticism expressed in the Glossip dissent. The trial court stops short, however, of altering the holding in Gregg that "[t]he concerns expressed in Furman that the penalty of death not be imposed in an arbitrary or capricious manner can be met by a carefully drafted statute that ensures that the sentencing authority is given adequate information and guidance." Gregg is still the law of the land. As the Supreme Court wrote about its own authority in State Oil Co. v. Khan, 522 U.S. 3, 20 (1997), "it is this Court's prerogative alone to overrule one of its precedents."

The time has surely arrived to recognize that the reforms introduced by Gregg and subsequent decisions have largely failed to remedy the problems identified in Furman. Institutional authority to change this body of law is reserved to the Supreme Court. For this reason, the trial court is required to deny the defense motions related to the constitutionality of the death penalty.'" 

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