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Oregon v. Guzek

Docket No.: 04-928
Certiorari Granted: Apr 25 2005
Argued: December 7, 2005
Decided: February 20, 2006


Criminal Procedure, Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Death Penalty

PartyNames: Oregon v. Randy Lee Guzek
Petitioner: Oregon
Respondent: Randy Lee Guzek

Court Below: Supreme Court of Oregon

Randy Lee Guzek
546 U.S. 517 (2006)

In Franklin v. Lynaugh, this Court concluded that a capital defendant does not have a constitutional right to an instruction telling the jury in the penalty phase to consider "residual doubt" about defendant's guilt. Most state and federal appellate courts have read this decision more broadly than its precise holding and have concluded that a capital defendant has no constitutional right to offer evidence and argue in a penalty- phase proceeding that he should receive a sentence less than death because he continues to assert his innocence of the underlying crime. The Oregon Supreme Court, however, held in this case that a capital defendant has a federal constitutional right to present in a penalty-phase proceeding alibi evidence that casts doubt on his guilt.

Question Presented:

The question presented is: Does a capital defendant have a right under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution to offer evidence and argument in support of a residual- doubt claim - that is, that the jury in a penalty-phase proceeding should consider doubt about the defendant's guilt in deciding whether to impose the death penalty?


Is there a constitutional right under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to introduce evidence of innocence during the sentencing phase of a trial?

Holding: vacated and remanded
Vote: 8-0
Recused: Alito
Opinion By:
Read OREGON V. GUZEK opinion (PDF)

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