Today's New York Times' opinion pages carry an editorial on Alabama judges who overrule jury verdicts and order death penalties instead of life sentences. It's a topic The Star has written about before. Many times, in fact.
The Times' editorialist wrote, "Since 1982, Alabama judges have overridden 95 such verdicts, sentencing defendants to death even though the jury voted for life — many times by a vote of 12 to 0.
"This bizarre arrangement is the result of a state law requiring that capital punishment be imposed when a crime’s aggravating factors, like an especially heinous murder or one committed for hire, outweigh the mitigating factors, like a defendant’s age or mental capacity. But regardless of how a jury weighs those factors, its verdict is advisory only. A judge may then weigh them differently and override the verdict without explanation. In more than 90 percent of overrides, judges chose death after a jury chose life."
-- Phillip Tutor