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Abstract

This Article provides a detailed exegesis and evaluation of the federal death penalty, including its 209-year history, recent developments in federal death penalty case law, and the process for national administration of the federal death penalty implemented by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1995. Part I of the article presents the history of the federal death penalty, the recent statutes and relevant case law, and the DOJ's procedures for administering federal death penalty prosecutions. It also describes the 1988 and 1994 statutory procedures for imposing the federal death penalty, and briefly reviews some of the case law leading to, and resulting from, those statutes. Part II evaluates the Attorney General's capital case review process and suggests a number of possibilities for improvement. This Article posits that, in effect, the DOJ Committee acts as a national moderator of capital punishment, and its written recommendations represent a developing body of "common law" precedent regarding the appropriate interpretation of, and standards for applying, the death penalty at the federal level."'

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