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Kansas v. Jonathan Carr and Reginald Carr, USSC Nos. 14-449 & 14-450; and Kansas v. Gleason, USSC No. 14-452, cert. granted 3/30/15

Questions presented:

Whether the Eighth Amendment requires that a capital-sentencing jury be affirmatively instructed that mitigating circumstances “need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the Kansas Supreme Court held here, or instead whether the Eighth Amendment is satisfied by instructions that, in context, make clear that each juror must individually assess and weigh any mitigating circumstances

Whether the trial court’s decision not to sever the sentencing phase of the co-defendant brothers’ trial here—a decision that comports with the traditional approach preferring joinder in circumstances like this—violated an Eighth Amendment right to an “individualized sentencing” determination and was not harmless in any event.

(NB: Gleason raises only the first question.)

Lower court decisions: State v. Jonathan Carr, 329 P.3d 1195 (Kan. 2014); State v. Reginald Carr, 331 P.3d 544 (Kan. 2014); State v. Gleason, 329 P.3d 1102 (Kan. 2014)

Docket: Jonathan Carr; Reginald Carr; Gleason

Scotusblog pages: Jonathan Carr; Reginald Carr

Of interest to Wisconsin practitioners only in the unlikely event the Court uses the decision to say something new about the Eighth Amendment or instructing juries about making penalty findings when required under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000).

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