This Article, by Professor Poulos, comprises two articles written by the same author. The first article traces the history of the capital punishment controversy in California through the retention election of 1986, the decline of the Bird court, and the emergence of the Lucas court. It also identifies differences in the way the two courts have handled automatic appeals under two statutes, the 1977 Legislation and the 1978 Initiative. It analyzes how this change was produced and the voting behavior of each of the justices of the Lucas court. The Article ends by assessing the question of whether the Deukmejian appointees have produced this change illegitimately or by permissible application of the relevant legal principles in a way different from the way they were applied by the Bird court. The second part of the Article focuses on the development of the law of special circumstances. It (1) chronicles the adoption of the concept of the special circumstances as a device to define death eligibility in California; (2) examines the work of the first year of the Lucas court with respect to the special circumstances, and compares the Lucas court's development of special circumstance doctrine with the development of special circumstance doctrine by the Bird court; (3) explores the purpose, structure, and function of the special circumstances, and the fundamental principles governing their interpretation; and (4) it looks at the specific law of the special circumstances as articulated by both courts, and compares the two bodies of law when appropriate.
John W. Poulos,
The Lucas Court and the Penalty Phase of the Capital Trial: The Original Understanding,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol27/iss3/2