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Supreme Court Case Study

Roper vs. Simmons and Atkins vs. Virginia

Lexy Glaberman

on 4 December 2013

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Transcript of Supreme Court Case Study

.When:Started 1993 and took place 2005.

.Where: Fenton, Missouri

.Who: Christopher Simmons(defendant), Charles Benjamin(accomplice), John Tessmer(accomplice), Shirley Cook(victim)

Events. Simmons conspired to rob, kidnap and murder Shirley Cook with his friends Benjamin and Tessmer
.night of burglary Tessmer drops out of the plot.
. Simmons and Benjamin break into Mrs. Cook's home, kidnap her and later throw her off a bridge
. Mrs. Cook drowns
. Simmons brags about what he has done
Facts of the Case
The Defense
The Prosecution
.Simmons was a minor when he committed the crime, the question was posed "if it was permissible under the eight and fourteenth amendments of the constitution of the United States to execute a juvenile offender who is older than 15 but younger than 18 when he committed a capital crime"

. Stating that Simmons could possibly be insane, in doing so would spare him from capital punishment.
Supreme Court Case Study
Roper v. Simmons
Atkins v. Virginia
Facts of the Case
When: August 16, 1998

Where: Near Langley Field, VA

Who: Daryl Atkins (Defendant), William Jones (Accomplice) and Eric Nesbitt (Victim)

Walked to a local convenient store to buy more beer
Armed with a semiautomatic hand gun
Robbed Eric Nesbitt
Kidnapped him
Drove him to the ATM, took more money
Drove to an isolated location and shot Nesbitt 8 times
Virginia Supreme Court
February 1998: Atkins was convicted in York County, Virginia of capital murder and robbery. The jury sentenced Atkins to death.
Ryan Baranowsky, Alexis Glaberman, Lascelles Peters
Capital Punishment
The Conviction
Atkins' attorney argued
the sentence was was to harsh for someone with an IQ of 59.
Cruel and unusual punishment according to the 8th Amendment
The Ruling
June 20, 2002:
The U.S. Supreme Court found the execution of persons with mental retardation to be unconstitutional
Reversed the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court and remanded the case for further proceedings
Atkins Arguments
Thank you for your time.
Any Questions?
What do you think the ruling was?
What do you think the ruling was?
The Verdict
.Once Simmons was apprehended he confessed that he had broke into Mrs. Cooks residence, kidnapped and murdered her.

.Simmons was then charged with burglary, kidnapping, stealing, and murder all of the first degree.

.The state presented his confession and video taped reenactment of the crime, along with the testimony proving the crime was premeditated and that he was bragging about the murder.

.Fully aware that Simmons was a minor and little history with the law Missouri sought the death penalty.
Capital punishment or death penalty- is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime
Death Penalty results from capital crimes or capital offenses
Capital - capitalis (latin) "regarding the head"
Murder, espionage, treason, military justice
Highly controversial in today's society
Worldwide- 58 nations actively practice, 97 countries have abolished it
Mr. Atkins sat on death row in Virginia until a jury to decided if he was indeed mentally retarded and thus not able to be executed.
However, there were issues with sentencing instructions
Second Jury considered information about Atkins' intelligence
Atkins' psychologist diagnosing him as suffering from "mild mental retardation"
The state's psychologist found the diagnosis inaccurate
The second jury ruled Atkins guilty and sentenced him to death
Atkins and his attorney appealed the sentence to the Virginia Supreme Court
Virginia Supreme Court upheld the decision of the death sentence made by the lower courts
The jury was not convinced that Atkins was suffering from mild
VA ruled that the sentence was not to harsh and did not violate the 8th Amendment
referencing Penry vs. Lynaugh
On March 26, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the oral arguments
On Friday, August 5, 2005 Atkins was found mentally competent by a Virginia jury
A Judge immediately schedule his execution for December 2, 2005
U.S. Supreme Court
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming
ALSO - U.S. Gov't, U.S. Military
Atkins and his attorney then appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court
Virginia's Arguments
1. National consensus emerged in the United States against executing the mentally retarded.

2.The Supreme Court has ruled that defendants 15 years old or younger cannot be given the death penalty

3. Prisoners with mental retardation face a high risk of being convicted for crimes they did not commit.
.The United States Supreme Court in Roper v Simmons ruled in favor of Simmons. The supreme Court then went to explain that sentencing a minor to death was indeed cruel and unusual punishment.
4. The mentally retarded should be considered in a special category due to shared common characteristics that make it difficult to participate in their own defense

5. The Supreme Court has found that the 8th Amendment contains room for interpretation based on an “evolving standard of decency."

6. Since World War II, many nations in the international community have taken a strong stand in opposition to the death penalty as a form of punishment.
1. A jury makes the decision on whether an individual should be given the death penalty

2. Individuals will claim they are mentally retarded to avoid being given the death penalty

3. Atkins is not mentally retarded
4. It is too early to determine if a national consensus has emerged against the execution of the mentally retarded

5. The Court cannot go back and reverse the decision once it has been made

6. There is nothing wrong with executing the mentally retarded
Full transcript