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Attorney General disagrees with state court; appeals to U.S. Supreme Court

November 3, 2003
By: Ann M. Hynek
State Capital Bureau

Attorney General Jay Nixon says "cruel and unusual punishment" does not include juvenile executions. Ann Hynek has the story...

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The United States Supreme Court decided in 1989 that execution of a juvenile offender is constitutional.

Last year, the Supreme Court decided that the execution of the mentally retarded is "cruel and unusual punishment."

The Missouri Supreme Court extended this decision to juveniles when it overturned a death sentence in August of this year.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon says the state court cannot legally interpret the "cruel and unusual" clause to include juveniles, submitting an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Beth Hammock, Director of Communications for the Attorney General, says it's Nixon's job to review such decisions.

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Contents: Hamock says the Attorney General's duty is to uphold the law. The Supreme Court's decision in 1989 said individuals as young as sixteen can receive the death penalty.

Hammock says Nixon's own opinion of the death penalty has nothing to do with upholding Supreme Court law.

From the state Capitol, I'm Ann Hynek.