The Limits of Legal Language: Decisionmaking in Capital Cases

To make the case for the proposed changes, I will first describe briefly in Parts I and II the structure of pre- and post-Furman capital decisiorurtaking and the weaknesses of those approaches. I then will set forth in Part III the specific rationales for each proposed reform.

The scheme I propose raises a significant constitutional question. Can the death penalty be retained as a punishment if we abandon the pretense of providing meaningful guidance through detailed sentencing instructions? Would the reestablishment of relatively unstructured penalty phase deliberations similar to, but also importantly different from, those characteristic of pre-Furman schemes survive post-Furman scrutiny?