Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719, 6 (1992)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next



Opinion of the Court

of these questions, or a variation: (1) "Do you know of any reason why you cannot be fair and impartial?", id., at 33; see id., at 41, 49, 64, 68, 75, 88, 99; (2) "Do you feel you can give both sides a fair trial?", id., at 70; see id., at 35, 38, 43, 49, 56, 61, 65, 77, 100, 110. When empaneled, each member of the jury further swore an oath to "well and truly try the issues joined herein and true deliverance make between the People of the State of Illinois and the defendant at the bar and a true verdict render according to the law and the evidence." 1 Tr. 601-602; see id., at 264, 370, 429, 507, 544, 575-576.

On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction and death sentence, rejecting petitioner's claim that, pursuant to Ross v. Oklahoma, 487 U. S. 81 (1988), voir dire must include the "life qualifying" or "reverse-Witherspoon" question upon request. The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that nothing requires a trial court to question potential jurors so as to identify and exclude any who would vote for the death penalty in every case after conviction for a capital offense. 142 Ill. 2d 410, 470, 568 N. E. 2d 755, 778 (1991).3 That court also found no violation

"Q Do you know any reason why you cannot give this defendant a fair trial?

"A I would have no problem during the trial. If it came—I had a friend's parents murdered twelve years ago before capital punishment. I would give a fair trial. If he is found guilty, I would want him hung.

"Q You couldn't be fair and impartial throughout the proceedings? "A No. "Q You are excused." App. 72-73.

3 The Illinois Supreme Court has subsequently emphasized that decision in this case was not meant "to imply that the 'reverse-Witherspoon' question is inappropriate. Indeed, given the type of scrutiny capital cases receive on review, one would think trial courts would go out of their way to afford a defendant every possible safeguard. The 'reverse-Witherspoon' question may not be the only means of ensuring defendant an impartial jury, but it is certainly the most direct. The best way to ensure that a prospective juror would not automatically vote for the death penalty is to ask." People v. Jackson, 145 Ill. 2d 43, 110, 582 N. E. 2d

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007