U.S. Supreme Court rejects legal challenge to California prosecutors’ use of videotapes as victim impact evidence

The LA Times reports:

Over the objection of three justices, the Supreme Court turned down appeals today from two Los Angeles murderers who said it was unfair that a videotape of the victim’s life was played for jurors before they decided the killer should die.

Defense lawyers had argued that this “cinematic evidence . . . designed to play on the jury’s emotions” should be excluded from a sentencing hearing in a capital case.

Today’s action leaves intact a rule that allows the use of so-called “victim impact evidence” in death penalty cases.

In 1991, the high court upheld this rule and said prosecutors may tell the jury about the victim, her life and the effect of her loss on her family and friends. Its decision restored the use of this evidence, which had been ruled unconstitutional in an earlier decision.

Talkleft has more here.

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