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Furman v. Georgia, Death penalty, Capital crimes


Professor Robert J. Smith encourages readers, lawyers, and courts to forget Furman v. Georgia and to focus instead on death penalty challenges grounded in the diminished culpability of nearly all capital defendants. We applaud Professor Smith’s call to focus on the mental and emotional characteristics that reduce the blameworthiness of so many of those charged with capital crimes; recognizing diminished culpability as the rule rather than the exception among capital defendants conveys a reality that rarely finds its way into reported cases. We are troubled, however, by Professor Smith’s call to “forget Furman.” We believe the title and the article’s efforts to undermine Furman-based challenges disserve Professor Smith’s principal goal — addressing the United States’ broken death penalty system.

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