Delaware's Death Penalty Put On Hold

A judge has halted capital murder cases and death penalty sentencing hearings.

A Superior Court judge in Delaware has ordered a halt to the death penalty in the state.

Judge Jan Jurden's Monday's order puts the state's 39 currently pending capital murder cases on hold until the state Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of Delaware's death penalty scheme. 

Jurden's order comes weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that allowing judges instead of juries to impose death sentences violates the Sixth Amendment. Delaware and Alabama both have death sentencing schemes similar to Florida. 

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the state was better off halting its death penalty until the state Supreme Court weighs the constitutional issues raised by ​Hurst. 

"If they don't know whether they have a constitutional statute, they won't want to try the case just to discover they have to redo it," he said.

Delaware has not had an execution since 2012, according to the Delaware Department of Corrections. None of the state's death row inmates have scheduled execution dates. 

A bill to abolish the death penalty in Delaware failed to clear the state House in a 23-16 vote last Thursday, though the measure is expected to be reconsidered. 


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