CHAPMAN V. COM.
CRIMINAL: DEATH PENALTY REQUESTED BY DEFENDANT
MINTON W/LAMBERT CONCURRING BY SEP. OPINION (NOBLE JOINS)
DATE RENDERED: 08/23/2007
SYNOPSIS: A defendant may lawfully enter into a plea agreement to forgo a jury trial and sentencing and volunteer for the death penalty.
SC affirmed Chapman’s death sentence and answered several questions concerning the death penalty in Kentucky. SC held a defendant may enter into a plea agreement to forgo a jury trial and sentencing and volunteer for the death penalty.
In affirming, the SC addressed the following issues:
1) The death penalty is unconstitutional ; 2) Lethal injection and electrocution violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution’s prohibition against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishments; 3) This Court’s method of conducting a proportionality review of death sentences is unconstitutional; 4) Chapman’s death sentence is arbitrary and disproportionate; 5) Residual doubt bars Chapman from receiving the death penalty; 6) Chapman’s due process rights were violated when the aggravators that made him death-eligible were not set forth in the indictment; 7) The trial court erred by requiring the same attorneys Chapman had already fired to serve as standby counsel since those attorneys disagreed with his stated goal of seeking the death penalty; 8) The trial court erred by refusing to consider certain mitigating evidence (i.e., a psychologist’s report detailing Chapman’s history of mental health-related issues, including a history of physical and substance abuse) tendered by his standby counsel; 9) The Commonwealth’s Attorney acted improperly by negotiating a plea agreement with Chapman himself during the time period when Chapman was still represented by counsel; 10) The trial court should have used a more stringent competency standard in light of Chapman’s history of abuse and of mental health-related issues; 11) This Court should not permit Chapman to commit "suicide by court"; and 12) Chapman’s convictions and sentence should be reversed under the cumulative error doctrine.
Digested by Scott C. Byrd