Abel Hidalgo presented a constitutional challenge to the Arizona Supreme Court alleging that Arizona’s statutory scheme establishing aggravating factors to justify the death sentence in some first-degree murders did not sufficiently narrow the class of cases eligible for the death penalty under the seminal United States Supreme Court case, Furman v. Georgia. To support his argument, Hidalgo relied upon a study presented to the trial court establishing that approximately 99% of all first-degree murder cases in Arizona had at least one aggravating circumstance present. Under Arizona law, only one aggravating circumstance listed under A.R.S. 13-751(F) must be proven to a jury in order to obtain a death sentence. The trial court had accepted the study’s findings but rejected Hidalgo’s constitutional challenge. The Arizona Supreme Court also rejected the challenge. (Opinion available here.)
Former Acting Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, has joined Hidalgo’s legal team to present the constitutional challenge to the death penalty that some scholars suggest could abolish the death penalty at a national level. As of now, the United States Supreme Court has not decided whether it will hear the case.
Read more about the case, including Hidalgo’s petition for cert, here.
President Alan Tavassoli conducted a lunch presentation at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on September 29, 2017. Approximately 50 students attended the event.
Mr. Tavassoli’s presentation provided an overview of the legal framework governing capital trials in Arizona from the initiation of the case to the jury’s deliberations in the guilt, aggravation, and mitigation phases of a capital trial.
Mr. Tavassoli, who is also a capital defense attorney, explained the ethical requirements a defense team must meet in order to provide competent legal services to defendant’s facing the death penalty.
Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona is working to schedule a discussion every month during the lunch hour at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law as part of its educational efforts to raise awareness about the death penalty in Arizona.
Stay up to date on local and national developments concerning all aspects of the death penalty by liking Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona’s Facebook page!