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Name: Abdul-Kabir v. Quarterman
Case #: 05-11284
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 04/25/2007
Subsequent History: 127 S.Ct. 1654; 167 L.Ed.2d 585
Summary

Juries must give meaningful consideration to all mitigating evidence that may provide a basis for not imposing the death penalty. After defendant’s murder conviction, the jury was asked to consider two special findings for determining whether to impose the death penalty. Defendant presented mitigating evidence consisting of childhood neglect and neurological damage, but the prosecutor told the jury the evidence was not relevant to the special findings. In his federal habeas writ, the defendant claimed the prosecutor’s argument as well as the instructions, did not allow sufficient evidence of the mitigating evidence. The majority found the lower court wrongly applied the High Court’s prior rulings to assure that capital juries give full consideration to any factor that might suggest a death sentence should not be imposed. The dissent by Justice Roberts accused the majority of being “utterly revisionist” of the Court’s jurisprudence in order to get the result they wanted, and said the under AEDPA, the lower court’s ruling should have been upheld because the federal law was, at best, ambiguous, and certainly not clearly established.