News Column

Sotomayor Faults Alabama Death Sentences

November 18, 2013

Associated Press

Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took issue with death verdicts in Alabama (file photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is calling attention to an Alabama law that allows judges to impose death sentences after juries have voted to send defendants to prison for life.

Sotomayor and Justice Stephen Breyer were the only two justices who voted Monday to hear an appeal from a death row inmate who was convicted of killing a Montgomery, Ala., police officer. Sotomayor took the unusual step of issuing a dissent from the court's order rejecting the appeal of defendant Mario Woodward.

The justice said that Alabama trial judges are elected in partisan proceedings and appear to have "succumbed to electoral pressures."

The jury voted 8-4 to send Woodward to prison for life. The trial judge sentenced him to death instead.

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Original headline: Justice Sotomayor faults Ala. death sentences


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Source: Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.