FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2016
For More Information, contact:
Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Alabama Attorney General
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
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AG STRANGE SAYS U.S. SUPREME COURT DENIAL OF CERT IN ALABAMA
DEATH PENALTY APPEAL DEMONSTRATES STATE LAW IS
(MONTGOMERY) – Today the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for
certiorari in Clayton Shanklin v. Alabama, in which a convicted murderer argued that
Alabama’s capital sentencing scheme was unconstitutional under the Court’s recent
decision in Hurst v. Florida. This was the first Alabama death penalty appeal to reach the
Supreme Court on this issue since Hurst was decided on January 12, 2016.
Attorney General Luther Strange said, “The Supreme Court’s decision to deny
this petition establishes, yet again, that Alabama capital sentencing system is
constitutional. As I have previously explained, the Court’s decision about Florida law
in Hurst has no bearing on the constitutionality of Alabama’s materially different capital
sentencing system. It is time for criminal defense lawyers to stop making specious
arguments and for public officials to recognize that Alabama’s capital sentencing is
constitutional under current U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”
In the Florida case, the holding is that a jury must find the aggravating factor in
order to make someone eligible for the death penalty. Alabama’s system already
requires the jury to do just that. The jury must unanimously find an aggravating factor
at either the guilt or sentencing phase – such as when the murder was committed
during a robbery, a rape, or a kidnapping.
Shanklin was convicted of capital murder and attempted murder, which he
committed during a home-invasion robbery in 2009 in Cordova. A jury in Walker
County Circuit Court recommended that Shanklin be sentenced to life-without-parole.
But, under Alabama law, the judge sentenced Shanklin to death because of his long
criminal history and the nature and circumstances of his crime.
There were no noted dissents to the Court’s single sentence order denying the
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