Abel Hidalgo's case is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court and challenges Arizona's capital sentencing statute and the constitutionality of the death penalty in and of itself. Arizona's capital sentencing statute does not meaningfully narrow the class of eligible homicide offenders. "Virtually every" first-degree murder is death eligible, including all felony murders. The statute is fundamentally at odds with the Supreme Court's requirement that a sentencing statute must "genuinely narrow the class of persons eligible for the death penalty and must reasonably justify the imposition of a more severe sentence on the defendant compared to others found guilty of murder."
Phillips Black represents a group of current and former judges, prosecutors, public defenders, legislators, and others in support of certiorari in this case. This group includes the author of Arizona's capital sentencing statute as well as a former chief justice of Arizona's Supreme Court and many others with a substantial stake in the fair application of Arizona's death penalty statute. Several additional amici have submitted briefs in support of certiorari. The brief explains how the sweeping applicability of Arizona's capital sentencing statute is itself unconstitutional and has led to the influence of arbitrary factors - most notably race - on the administration of the death penalty in Arizona.
Mr. Hidalgo's petition for certiorari is available here.
The amicus brief of Former and Current Arizona Judges, Prosecutors, Defenders, Legislators, and Others in Support of Petitioner is available here.
The amicus brief of the Promise of Justice Initiative et al. is available here. The brief discusses how the death penalty functions as largely a punishment for those who decline an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence less than death.
The amicus brief of the Fair Punishment Project is available here. The brief discusses how declining use of the death penalty indicates that the evolving standards of decency embodied in the Eighth Amendment should prohibit the imposition of the death penalty.
The opinion of the Arizona Supreme Court is available here.
Press About The Case:
Chris Geidner, A Top Lawyer Has Asked The Supreme Court To Hear A Major Death Penalty Case, BuzzFeed News (Aug. 14, 2017)
Michael Kiefer, Arizona Attorneys Ask U.S. Supreme Court To Review Death Penalty Statute, The Republic (Aug. 15, 2017)
Tony Mauro, Hogan's Katyal Aims To End The Death Penalty In Arizona SCOTUS Case, The National Law Journal (Aug. 15, 2017)
Aurora Barnes, Petition Of The Day, SCOTUSBlog (Aug. 28, 2017)