Jonathan DeMay


The most important variable affecting whether a defendant will be subject to the death penalty is often the particular ideology of the district attorney of a respective county. More subtle forms of arbitrariness, such as bias based upon race, gender and class, also pervade the process. Arguing that the dangers inherent in the present situation justify the imposition of controls over the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in the decision whether to seek the death penalty, Part I presents the nature and scope of prosecutorial discretion judicial review of that discretion and the influence that individual prosecutors can have in the exercise of such discretion in the context of the death penalty. Part II examines previously proffered controls of prosecutorial discretion and considers the appropriateness of utilizing these controls to limit the exercise of discretion in the decision whether to seek the death penalty. Part III asserts that within our current criminal justice system, potential controls must focus on improving the decision-making process in which discretion is exercised. This Note concludes that a single statewide inter-office death penalty committee is the most appropriate control of the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in such a critical decision.

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