This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.
on Apr 18, 2000
Decided Jun 2, 2000
Case Ruling: RAMDASS v. ANGELONE
Petitioner Ramdass was sentenced to death in Virginia for murder. In two other cases, Ramdass had been found guilty of two armed robberies. Arguing for a life sentence in the murder trial, Ramdass claimed that his prior convictions made him ineligible for parole under Virginia’s three-strikes law. The prosecutor argued for a death sentence because of future dangerousness. The court sentenced Ramdass to death, without the jury being told that the defendant is parole-ineligible.
Held:(Rehnquist, joined by O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas)
The death sentence is valid, even though Ramdass was not allowed to tell jurors that he would not be eligible for parole if sentenced to life in prison.
In Simmons v. South Carolina (1994), a majority of the Court held that “where the defendant’s future dangerousness is in issue… due process entitles the defendant to inform the capital sentencing jury that he is
parole-ineligible.” [This precedent does not apply here because], although Ramdass had been found guilty of the armed robbery, that verdict did not count as a prior conviction because final judgment had not yet been entered on that verdict at the time of Ramdass’ capital sentencing proceeding.
Dissent:(Stevens, joined by Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer)
There is an acute unfairness in permitting a State to rely on a recent conviction to establish a defendant’s future dangerousness while simultaneously permitting the State to deny that there was such a conviction when the defendant attempts to argue that he is parole-ineligible and therefore not a future danger. Even the most miserly reading of Simmons supports the conclusion that Ramdass was denied the right to meet the State’s case against him. The plurality’s criticism [is] formalistic; there are times when judgment is far more important than technical symmetry. I respectfully dissent.
Participating counts on VoteMatch question 9.
Question 9: Stricter punishment reduces crime
Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
- Topic: Crime
- Headline: Life-sentence alternative doesn't affect death sentence
- Headline 2: Life-sentence alternative should affect death sentence
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