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California Supreme Court Overturns Death Penalty Case on Jury Selection Error

Posted Aug 27, 2020

On August 24, 2020, the California Supreme Court overturned the death penalty for Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 of the murders of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. The Court’s unanimous 7-0 opinion, authored by Justice Leondra Kruger, upheld the murder convictions but found that the trial court had “erroneously dismissed many prospective jurors” who had indicated that they opposed the death penalty, even though there was no indication that these views would prevent them from following the law. According to the Court, this error required reversal of the death penalty in accordance with U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The state may still retry Peterson for the death penalty on remand or can commute Peterson’s sentence life without the possibility of parole. Either the state or Peterson can appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. See New York TimesLos Angeles TimesBloomberg Law.