Supreme Court Rules Judges Can't Impose Death Penalty, Invalidating the Laws of 5 States and Possibly Freeing Hundreds From Death Row

June 25, 2002

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a jury, not a judge, must determine whether a defendant will get the death penalty.

The decision invalidates the death penalty laws of five states and casts doubt on the laws of four others. The ruling could ultimately take more people off death row than any other ruling by the court in three decades.


  • John Stookey, defense attorney, Osborn Maledon. Stookey is co-counsel for Thomas Stuart Ring, the death-row inmate whose case just won a favorable decision before the Supreme Court, invalidating death-sentencing procedures in five states.

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