November 27, 2012
McCleskey v. Kemp
Mr. McCleskey was a Black man, that was convicted of two counts armed robbery and one count of murder in the Supreme Court of Fulton County, Georgia. His convictions were due to the robbery of a furniture store and the killing of a white police officer while the robbery was occurring. There was evidence presented at trial that proved one of the bullets to be from a .38 caliber Rossi revolver, which fit the description of the gun McCleskey was carrying, and two witnesses who had heard McCleskey had admitted to the shooting.
McCleskey was convicted of murder, by the jury. In the state of Georgia the jury is not allowed to impose, or consider imposing the death penalty unless it is found beyond reasonable doubt that the murder was accompanied by statutory aggravating circumstances. The jury in this case found two aggravating circumstances to exist. They found that the murder was committed during an armed robbery, and that the murder was committed against a peace officer while he was doing his duties. The court agreed with the jury and sentenced McCleskey to death. McCleskey, on many attempts had failed to achieve relief from the Supreme Courts of Georgia on appeals, his writ of certiorari, and a motion for a new trial. This lead McCleskey to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. One of the claims was that the Georgia capital sentencing process is administered in a racially discriminatory manner which violates the Eight and Fourteenth Amendments. In order to support this claim, McCleskey used a statistical study to prove that black defendants who kill white victims are more likely to receive the death sentence in the state.
The question in the matter now is whether or not the statistical study was able to prove that McCleskey’s sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The District Court held an...