KEENAN v. CALIFORNIA
Annotate this Case
490 U.S. 1012 (1989)
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U.S. Supreme Court
KEENAN v. CALIFORNIA , 490 U.S. 1012 (1989)
490 U.S. 1012
Maurice J. KEENAN
CALIFORNIA. No. 88-6438.
Supreme Court of the United States
April 3, 1989
On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of California.
The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice BRENNAN, dissenting.
Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 227, 2950, 49 L. Ed.2d 859 (1976), I would grant certiorari and vacate the death sentence in this case.
Justice MARSHALL, dissenting from denial of certiorari.
Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231, 2973, 49 L. Ed.2d 859 (1976) (MARSHALL J., dissenting), I would grant the petition for certiorari and vacate the death sentence in this case. But
even if I did not hold this view, I would still grant the petition. The record in this case strongly suggests that, in the words of the dissenting judge below, "certain remarks by the court during the penalty phase, superimposed upon an emotional episode that had already occurred in the jury room, had an improperly coercive effect upon the jury's deliberations and improperly influenced the verdict." 46 Cal.3d 478, 545, 250 Cal.Rptr. 550, 594, 758 P.2d 1081, 1124 (1988) (Kaufman, J., dissenting in part). I would therefore grant certiorari, both to ascertain whether petitioner was denied his right to an uncoerced verdict, and to clarify our standards for determining jury coercion, a subject discussed most recently in Lowenfield v. Phelps, 484 U.S. 231 (1988).
The penalty phase in question was described at length in the majority and partially dissenting opinions below, 46 Cal.3d, at 527-544, 250 Cal. Rptr., at 582-594, 758 P.2d, at 1112-1124 (majority opinion); id., at 545- 550, 250 Cal.Rptr., at 594-597, 758 P.2d, at 1124-1129 (Kaufman, J., dissenting in part), and so only a brief account is necessary here. During jury deliberations, only one juror held out: an elderly woman who refused to vote to impose the death penalty. After a day of deliberations, another juror rose out of his chair and verbally attacked her in a tirade that apparently included a death threat. Id., at 545, 250 Cal.Rptr., at 594, 758 P.2d, at 1125. Crying and shaking, she left the jury room a d went to a bathroom, where she vomited. In response, the foreman sent the judge notes indicating that there was one holdout against imposing the death penalty. Ibid.
The judge then recalled the jury. He told the jury that the court was required to investigate the jury's "problem" by questioning the foreman and, perhaps, " 'the one or more jurors who may be having difficulty in reaching a verdict.' " Id., at 546, 250 Cal.Rptr., at 595, 758 P.2d, at 1125. He added that, if necessary, he would determine whether or not "one or more of the jurors are refusing to adhere to the law and the evidence," ibid. (emphasis omitted); he added that he had expected that the jury would have delivered a verdict by then. Id., at 546, 250 Cal.Rptr., at 595, 758 P.2d, at 1125. The judge told the jurors that he was sending them home for the weekend so that they could search their consciences. He then recognized the foreman, who stated that the weekend release would be a "fine gesture," and that "we should have a verdict come Monday." Ibid. The judge responded: "Good. Well, I'm glad to hear you say that. I appreciate that." Ibid. After only one hour of delib- [490 U.S. 1012 , 1014]