1998 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representatives Formby, Barnett (116th), Brown, Davis, Ellington, Ketchings, King, Montgomery, Moore, Robinson (84th), Saucier, Simpson, Weathersby
House Bill 1637
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 9-4-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT POST-CONVICTION RELIEF APPEALS IN DEATH PENALTY CASES SHALL BE DECIDED WITHIN 270 DAYS; TO AMEND SECTION 97-3-19, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT MURDER OF TWO OR MORE PERSONS SHALL BE CAPITAL MURDER; TO AMEND SECTION 99-19-51, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT ALL EXECUTIONS SHALL BE BY LETHAL INJECTION; TO AMEND SECTION 99-19-55, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT EXECUTIONS SHALL BE AT 6:00 P.M.; TO ALLOW TWO MEMBERS OF A VICTIM'S IMMEDIATE FAMILY TO WITNESS THE EXECUTION OF THE VICTIM'S MURDERER; TO AMEND SECTION 99-19-101, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE AGGRAVATING AND MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES IN CAPITAL CASES; TO AMEND SECTION 99-19-105, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE DEATH PENALTY REVIEW BY THE SUPREME COURT; TO AMEND SECTION 99-39-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE TIME LIMITATION ON POST-CONVICTION RELIEF; TO REQUIRE THE MISSISSIPPI BAR ASSOCIATION TO DEVELOP A LIST OF ATTORNEYS FOR DEATH PENALTY CASES AND TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR COMPENSATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 9-4-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
9-4-3. (1) The Court of Appeals shall have the power to determine or otherwise dispose of any appeal or other proceeding assigned to it by the Supreme Court.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is limited to those matters which have been assigned to it by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court shall prescribe rules for the assignment of matters to the Court of Appeals. These rules may provide for the selective assignment of individual cases and may provide for the assignment of cases according to subject matter or other general criteria. However, the Supreme Court shall retain appeals in cases imposing the death penalty, or cases involving utility rates, annexations, bond issues, election contests, or a statute held unconstitutional by the lower court.
(2) Decisions of the Court of Appeals are final and are not subject to review by the Supreme Court, except by writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court may grant certiorari review only by the affirmative vote of four (4) of its members. At any time before final decision by the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may, by order, transfer to the Supreme Court any case pending before the Court of Appeals.
(3) The Court of Appeals shall have jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition or any other process when this may be necessary in any case assigned to it by the Supreme Court.
(4) The Court of Appeals shall issue a decision in every case heard before the Court of Appeals within two hundred seventy (270) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court.
(5) The Supreme Court shall issue a decision in every case within its original jurisdiction, including all direct and post-conviction collateral relief appeals or applications in cases imposing the death penalty, within two hundred seventy (270) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court. The Supreme Court shall issue a decision in every case received on certiorari from the Court of Appeals within one hundred eighty (180) days after the final briefs have been filed with the court.
SECTION 2. Section 97-3-19, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-3-19. (1) The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be murder in the following cases:
(a) When done with deliberate design to effect the death of the person killed, or of any human being;
(b) When done in the commission of an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved heart, regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual;
(c) When done without any design to effect death by any person engaged in the commission of any felony other than rape, kidnapping, burglary, arson, robbery, sexual battery, unnatural intercourse with any child under the age of twelve (12), or nonconsensual unnatural intercourse with mankind, or felonious abuse and/or battery of a child in violation of subsection (2) of Section 97-5-39, or in any attempt to commit such felonies.
(2) The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder in the following cases:
(a) Murder which is perpetrated by killing a peace officer or fireman while such officer or fireman is acting in his official capacity or by reason of an act performed in his official capacity, and with knowledge that the victim was a peace officer or fireman. For purposes of this paragraph, the term "peace officer" means any state or federal law enforcement officer including but not limited to a federal park ranger, the sheriff of or police officer of a city or town, a game warden, a parole officer, a judge, prosecuting attorney or any other court official, an agent of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the State Tax Commission, an agent of the Bureau of Narcotics, personnel of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, and the employees of the Department of Corrections who are designated as peace officers by the Commissioner of Corrections pursuant to Section 47-5-54, and the superintendent and his deputies, guards, officers and other employees of the Mississippi State Penitentiary;
(b) Murder which is perpetrated by a person who is under sentence of life imprisonment;
(c) Murder which is perpetrated by use or detonation of a bomb or explosive device;
(d) Murder which is perpetrated by any person who has been offered or has received anything of value for committing the murder, and all parties to such a murder, are guilty as principals;
(e) When done with or without any design to effect death, by any person engaged in the commission of the crime of rape, burglary, kidnapping, arson, robbery, sexual battery, unnatural intercourse with any child under the age of twelve (12), or nonconsensual unnatural intercourse with mankind, or in any attempt to commit such felonies;
(f) When done with or without any design to effect death, by any person engaged in the commission of the crime of felonious abuse and/or battery of a child in violation of subsection (2) of Section 97-5-39, or in any attempt to commit such felony;
(g) Murder which is perpetrated by the killing of any elected official of a county, municipal, state or federal government with knowledge that the victim was such public official;
(h) When any person murders two (2) or more persons during the same criminal transaction, or during different criminal transactions but which are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct.
SECTION 3. Section 99-19-51, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-51. * * * Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, the manner of inflicting the punishment of death shall be by continuous intravenous administration of a lethal quantity of an ultra short-acting barbiturate or other similar drug in combination with a chemical paralytic agent until death is pronounced by the county coroner where the execution takes place or by a licensed physician according to accepted standards of medical practice.
* * *
SECTION 4. Section 99-19-55, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-55. (1) Whenever any person shall be condemned to suffer death for any crime for which such person shall have been convicted in any court of any county of this state, such punishment shall be inflicted at 6:00 p.m. at an appropriate place designated by the Commissioner of Corrections on the premises of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi. All male persons convicted of a capital offense wherein the death sentence has been imposed shall be immediately committed to the Department of Corrections and transported to the maximum security cell block at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi. When the maximum inmate capacity at such maximum security cell block has been reached, the Commissioner of Corrections shall place such male convicts in an appropriate facility on the grounds of the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi. All female persons convicted of a capital offense wherein the death sentence has been imposed shall be immediately committed to the Department of Corrections and housed in an appropriate facility designated by the Commissioner of Corrections. Upon final affirmance of the conviction, the punishment shall be imposed in the manner provided by law. The State Executioner or his duly authorized deputy shall supervise and perform such execution.
(2) When a person is sentenced to suffer death in the manner provided by law, it shall be the duty of the clerk of the court to deliver forthwith to the Commissioner of Corrections a warrant for the execution of the condemned person. It shall be the duty of the commissioner forthwith to notify the State Executioner of the date of the execution and it shall be the duty of the said State Executioner, or any person deputized by him in writing, in the event of his physical disability, as hereinafter provided, to be present at such execution, to perform the same, and have general supervision over said execution. In addition to the above designated persons, the Commissioner of Corrections shall secure the presence at such execution of the sheriff, or his deputy, of the county of conviction, at least one (1) but not more than two (2) physicians or the county coroner where the execution takes place, and bona fide members of the press, not to exceed eight (8) in number, and at the request of the condemned, such ministers of the gospel, not exceeding two (2), as said condemned person shall name. The Commissioner of Corrections shall also name to be present at the execution such officers or guards as may be deemed by him to be necessary to insure proper security. No other persons shall be permitted to witness the execution, except the commissioner may permit two (2) members of the condemned person's immediate family as witnesses, if they so request and two (2) members of the victim's immediate family as witnesses, if they so request. Provided further, that the Governor may, for good cause shown, permit two (2) additional persons of good and reputable character to witness an execution. No person shall be allowed to take photographs or other recordings of any type during the execution. The absence of the sheriff, or deputy, after due notice to attend, shall not delay the execution.
(3) The State Executioner, or his duly authorized representative, the Commissioner of Corrections, or his duly authorized representative, and the physician or physicians or county coroner who witnessed such execution shall prepare and sign officially a certificate setting forth the time and place thereof and that such criminal was then and there executed in conformity to the sentence of the court and the provisions of Sections 99-19-51 through 99-19-55, and shall procure the signatures of the other public officers and persons who witnessed such execution, which certificate shall be filed with the clerk of the court where the conviction of the criminal was had, and the clerk shall subjoin the certificate to the record of the conviction and sentence.
(4) The body of the person so executed shall be released immediately by the State Executioner, or his duly authorized representative, to the relatives of the dead person, or to such friends as may claim the body. The Commissioner of Corrections shall have sole charge of burial in the event the body is not claimed as aforesaid, and his discretion in the premises shall be final. The Commissioner may donate the unclaimed body of an executed person to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for scientific purposes. The county of conviction shall bear the reasonable expense of burial in the event the body is not claimed by relatives or friends or donated to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
SECTION 5. Section 99-19-101, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-101. (1) Upon conviction or adjudication of guilt of a defendant of capital murder or other capital offense, the court shall conduct a separate sentencing proceeding to determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without eligibility for parole * * *. The proceeding shall be conducted by the trial judge before the trial jury as soon as practicable. If, through impossibility or inability, the trial jury is unable to reconvene for a hearing on the issue of penalty, having determined the guilt of the accused, the trial judge may summon a jury to determine the issue of the imposition of the penalty. If the trial jury has been waived, or if the defendant pleaded guilty, the sentencing proceeding shall be conducted before a jury impaneled for that purpose or may be conducted before the trial judge sitting without a jury if both the State of Mississippi and the defendant agree thereto in writing. In the proceeding, evidence may be presented as to any matter that the court deems relevant to sentence, and shall include matters relating to any of the aggravating or mitigating circumstances. However, this subsection shall not be construed to authorize the introduction of any evidence secured in violation of the Constitution of the United States or of the State of Mississippi. The state and the defendant and/or his counsel shall be permitted to present arguments for or against the sentence of death.
(2) After hearing all the evidence, the jury shall deliberate on the following matters:
(a) Whether sufficient factors exist as enumerated in subsection (7) of this section;
(b) Whether sufficient aggravating circumstances exist as enumerated in subsection (5) of this section;
(c) Whether sufficient mitigating circumstances exist as enumerated in subsection (6) of this section * * *; and
(d) Based on these considerations, whether the defendant should be sentenced to life imprisonment, life imprisonment without eligibility for parole, or death.
(3) For the jury to impose a sentence of death, it must unanimously find in writing the following:
(a) That sufficient factors exist as enumerated in subsection (7) of this section;
(b) That sufficient aggravating circumstances exist as enumerated in subsection (5) of this section; and
(c) That there are insufficient mitigating circumstances, as enumerated in subsection (6) * * *.
In each case in which the jury imposes the death sentence, the determination of the jury shall be supported by specific written findings of fact based upon the circumstances in subsections (5) and (6) of this section and upon the records of the trial and the sentencing proceedings. If, after the trial of the penalty phase, the jury does not make the findings requiring the death sentence * * * or is unable to reach a decision, the court shall impose a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.
(4) The judgment of conviction and sentence of death shall be subject to automatic review by the Supreme Court of Mississippi within sixty (60) days after certification by the sentencing court of entire record, unless the time is extended for an additional period by the Supreme Court for good cause shown. Such review by the Supreme Court shall have priority over all other cases and shall be heard in accordance with rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.
(5) Aggravating circumstances shall be limited to the following:
(a) The capital offense was committed by a person under sentence of imprisonment.
(b) The defendant was previously convicted of another capital offense or of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person.
(c) The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons.
(d) The capital offense was committed while the defendant was engaged, or was an accomplice, in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, any robbery, rape, arson, burglary, kidnapping, aircraft piracy, sexual battery, unnatural intercourse with any child under the age of twelve (12), or nonconsensual unnatural intercourse with mankind, or felonious abuse and/or battery of a child in violation of subsection (2) of Section 97-5-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, or the unlawful use or detonation of a bomb or explosive device.
(e) The capital offense was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest, preventing detection of crime or effecting an escape from custody.
(f) The capital offense was committed for pecuniary gain.
(g) The capital offense was committed to disrupt or hinder the lawful exercise of any governmental function or the enforcement of laws.
(h) The capital offense was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.
(i) The capital offense was committed by a person in, or who has escaped from, the custody of a law enforcement officer or place of confinement.
(j) The capital offense was committed upon a person who was a witness to a crime and who was killed for the purpose of preventing his appearance or testimony in any grand jury, criminal or civil prosecution involving such crime or as a result of his appearance or testifying in such proceeding.
(k) The defendant's course of conduct resulted in the deaths of two (2) or more persons where the deaths are a probable consequence of the defendant's conduct.
(l) The defendant caused or directed another to commit the capital offense or committed the capital offense as an agent or employee of another person.
(m) The victim was severely handicapped, severely disabled or elderly.
(n) The victim was a peace officer or fireman within the definition of subsection (2)(a) of Section 93-3-19.
(6) Mitigating circumstances shall be the following:
(a) The defendant has no significant history of prior criminal activity.
(b) The offense was committed while the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance.
(c) The victim was a participant in the defendant's conduct or consented to the act.
(d) The defendant was an accomplice in the capital offense committed by another person and his participation was relatively minor.
(e) The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the substantial domination of another person.
(f) The capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired.
(g) The age of the defendant at the time of the crime.
(h) Any other circumstances of the capital offense or defendant's background or character that would be mitigating of sentence.
(7) In order to return and impose a sentence of death the jury must make a written finding of one or more of the following:
(a) The defendant actually killed;
(b) The defendant attempted to kill;
(c) The defendant intended that a killing take place;
(d) The defendant contemplated that lethal force would be employed;
(e) The defendant's actions exhibited reckless disregard or extreme indifference to human life.
SECTION 6. Section 99-19-105, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-105. (1) Whenever the death penalty is imposed, and upon the judgment becoming final in the trial court, the sentence shall be reviewed on the record by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The clerk of the trial court, within ten (10) days after receiving the transcript, shall transmit the entire record and transcript to the Mississippi Supreme Court together with a notice prepared by the clerk and a report prepared by the trial judge. The notice shall set forth the title and docket number of the case, the name of the defendant and the name and address of his attorney, a narrative statement of the judgment, the offense, and the punishment prescribed. The report shall be in the form of a standard questionnaire prepared and supplied by the Mississippi Supreme Court, a copy of which shall be served upon counsel for the state and counsel for the defendant.
(2) The Mississippi Supreme Court shall consider the punishment as well as any errors enumerated by way of appeal.
(3) With regard to the sentence, the court shall determine:
(a) Whether the sentence of death was imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice or any other arbitrary factor;
(b) Whether the evidence supports the jury's or judge's finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance as enumerated in Section 99-19-101;
(c) Whether the sentence of death is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant; and
(d) Should one or more of the aggravating circumstances be found invalid on appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court shall determine * * * whether the inclusion of any invalid circumstance was harmless error * * *.
(4) Both the defendant and the state shall have the right to submit briefs within the time provided by the court, and to present oral argument to the court.
(5) The court shall include in its decision a reference to those similar cases which it took into consideration. In addition to its authority regarding correction of errors, the court, with regard to review of death sentences, shall be authorized to:
(a) Affirm the sentence of death;
(b) * * * (i) Hold the error in the sentence phase harmless error and affirm the sentence of death or (ii) remand the case for a new sentencing hearing; or
(c) Set the sentence aside and remand the case for modification of the sentence to imprisonment for life.
(6) The sentence review shall be in addition to direct appeal, if taken, and the review and appeal shall be consolidated for consideration. The court shall render its decision on legal errors enumerated, the factual substantiation of the verdict, and the validity of the sentence.
(7) Upon affirmance, and again upon rehearing if such is necessary, of any sentence of death by the Mississippi Supreme Court or the affirmance or denial of review by the United States Supreme Court, the Mississippi Supreme Court shall reset the date of execution not more than sixty (60) days from the date of the Mississippi Supreme Court's affirmance of the sentence or from the denial of relief by the United States Supreme Court. Unless the sentence is suspended, the Clerk of the Mississippi Supreme Court shall forthwith deliver to the Commissioner of Corrections a warrant of execution under seal of the court, which warrant shall be his authority to execute the convict.
SECTION 7. Section 99-39-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-39-5. (1) Any prisoner in custody under sentence of a court of record of the State of Mississippi who claims:
(a) That the conviction or the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution or laws of Mississippi;
(b) That the trial court was without jurisdiction to impose sentence;
(c) That the statute under which the conviction and/or sentence was obtained is unconstitutional;
(d) That the sentence exceeds the maximum authorized by law;
(e) That there exists evidence of material facts, not previously presented and heard, that requires vacation of the conviction or sentence in the interest of justice;
(f) That his plea was made involuntarily;
(g) That his sentence has expired; his probation, parole or conditional release unlawfully revoked; or he is otherwise unlawfully held in custody;
(h) That he is entitled to an out-of-time appeal; or
(i) That the conviction or sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack upon any grounds of alleged error heretofore available under any common law, statutory or other writ, motion, petition, proceeding or remedy; may file a motion to vacate, set aside or correct the judgment or sentence, or for an out-of-time appeal.
(2) A motion for relief under this chapter shall be made within one (1) year after the time in which the prisoner's direct appeal is ruled upon by the Supreme Court of Mississippi or, in case no appeal is taken, within one (1) year after the time for taking an appeal from the judgment of conviction or sentence has expired, or in case of a guilty plea, within one (1) year after entry of the judgment of conviction. Excepted from this three-year statute of limitations are those cases in which the prisoner can demonstrate either that there has been an intervening decision of the Supreme Court of either the State of Mississippi or the United States which would have actually adversely affected the outcome of his conviction or sentence or that he has evidence, not reasonably discoverable at the time of trial, which is of such nature that it would be practically conclusive that had such been introduced at trial it would have caused a different result in the conviction or sentence. Likewise excepted are those cases in which the prisoner claims that his sentence has expired or his probation, parole or conditional release has been unlawfully revoked.
(3) This motion is not a substitute for, nor does it affect, any remedy incident to the proceeding in the trial court, or direct review of the conviction or sentence.
(4) Proceedings under this chapter shall be subject to the provisions of Section 99-19-42.
SECTION 8. (1) The Mississippi Bar Association shall develop a list of attorneys who are experienced in representing death penalty defendants.
(2) The circuit judges are encouraged to appoint an attorney from this list to serve as one (1) of the two (2) attorneys indigent death penalty defendants are entitled to have. The appointed attorneys shall be paid an hourly rate based on the pay received by district attorneys which shall include fringe benefits in computing the total hourly rate.
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.