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.