In this case, several procedural issues are involved. First, there is the defendant's age; second there is his mental status; third, there is the issue of the judge going over the jury's recommendations; fourth, the charge should have been manslaughter and not murder, since Cherese died when her head struck a rock when she fell out of the car after being hit by Nate, and not from the blow struck by Nate; and fifth there is the issue of inadequate representation by counsel for not bringing these issues to the court's attention before the trial got underway. He should have at least plea-bargained for a charge of manslaughter.
On the first procedural issue, in a closely divided, 5-4, decision, on March 1, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty cannot be imposed on youthful murderers who were not yet 18 years of age at the time they committed the crimes (International Information, 2005). Such executions are considered a disproportionate punishment for juveniles, whom society views as categorically less culpable than adult criminals, the court said, and violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment contained in the Eighth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. This decision threw out the current death
sentences of 71 juvenile murderers and bars states in the future from seeking to execute minors for crimes.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, acknowledged the weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, which he said rests, "in larfe part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime" (International Information, 2005). Kennedy was joined in his decision by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Stephen Breyer. The dissenting justices were Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor, Clarence Thomas, and Chef Justice William Rehnquist, and their dissent highlighted the federal...