"Ga. high court reinstates many death sentences," is the AP report, via the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the last five years, the Georgia Supreme Court has considered eight cases where lower courts threw out a death sentence handed down by a trial jury.
Each time, Georgia's highest court reinstated the original sentence.
That result pleases prosecutors, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But defense attorneys and capital punishment opponents say it's troubling, particularly in cases where jurors aren't allowed to give a convicted killer's mental health history full consideration.
The cases typically involve a condemned inmate appealing his death sentence by arguing that his lawyer performed below required standards during the sentencing phase, after a jury has already determined a defendant's guilt. Several appeals judges have agreed that an inadequate defense helped prosecutors reach the unanimous jury vote that Georgia law requires for the death penalty.
In most of the cases, the Supreme Court hasn't disagreed that defense lawyers were substandard. But the justices overruled the appeals courts by deciding that poor performance didn't affect jurors' decisions.
The AP report is based on Bill Rankin's, "High court consistently reinstating death sentences," for the Journal-Constitution.
Earlier coverage from Georgia begins at the link. Georgia requires a proportionality review of death sentence, but the state Supreme Court has been criticized for not providing a rigorous review.