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Supreme Court overturns death penalty conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned the death penalty conviction of a man whose lawyer failed to present evidence that the man suffered from child abuse and mental illness.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices said Ronald Rompilla, who was convicted of murder in 1988, had inadequate legal counsel. The evidence of abuse and mental illness could have spared him from death row, the court said in an opinion written by Justice David H. Souter.

The state of Pennsylvania has to hold another sentencing hearing for Rompilla or give him life in prison, Souter said.

Get the Story:
High Court Blocks Pa. Inmate's Death Sentence (The Washington Post 6/21)
Justices Overturn a Death Sentence, Citing an Inadequate Defense Counsel (The New York Times 6/21)

Decision in Rompila v. Pennylvania:
Syllabus | Opinion [Souter] | Concurrence [O'Connor] | Dissent [Kennedy]

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