Hitchcock v. Dugger, 481 U.S. 393 (1987)
A Florida death penalty statute was interpreted to prohibit the sentencing jury and judge from considering mitigating circumstances not specifically enumerated in the statute. In capital cases, the sentencer may not refuse to consider or be precluded from considering any relevant mitigating evidence.
U.S. Supreme CourtHitchcock v. Dugger, 481 U.S. 393 (1987)
Hitchcock v. Dugger
Argued October 15, 1986
Decided April 22, 1987
481 U.S. 393
Petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in a separate postconviction proceeding. In that proceeding, the trial judge instructed the advisory jury not to consider, and himself refused to consider, evidence of mitigating circumstances not specifically enumerated in the Florida death penalty statute. Following unsuccessful appeals and state and federal collateral proceedings, petitioner filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court, claiming that the advisory jury and the sentencing judge had been precluded by law from considering evidence of nonstatutory mitigating circumstances. The District Court denied the application, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: Petitioner was sentenced to death in proceedings that did not comport with the requirement that the sentencer may neither refuse to consider nor be precluded from considering any relevant mitigating evidence. Skipper v. South Carolina, 476 U. S. 1; Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U. S. 104; Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U. S. 586. Under the circumstances of this case, petitioner's death sentence cannot stand. Pp. 481 U. S. 395-399.
770 F.2d 1514, reversed and remanded.
SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.