02/10/2014 10:14 am ET Updated Feb 10, 2014

The Ugly Campaign To Punish A Civil Rights Lawyer Because He Helped Save A Man From Execution

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In 1982, a Pennsylvania jury sentenced a man to die shortly after convicting him for murdering a Philadelphia police officer. Yet, as a federal appeals court determined years later, this sentence violated the Constitution. The trial judge gave the jury a confusing form and confusing jury instructions which could be read to effectively require a sentence of death unless every single member of the jury agreed that mitigating factors were present justifying a life sentence. Thus, even if nearly every member of a jury agreed that the death penalty was not warranted, these confusing instructions could have led to a death sentence if only one juror supported it.

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