SECOND REGULAR SESSION

HOUSE BILL NO. 1625

96TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY


 

 

INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES ELLINGER (Sponsor), PACE, McDONALD, WALTON GRAY AND MEADOWS (Co-sponsors).

4926L.01I                                                                                                                                                  D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk


 

AN ACT

To amend chapter 565, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to fairness in the infliction of the death penalty, with an emergency clause.




Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:


            Section A. Chapter 565, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 565.036, to read as follows:

            565.036. 1. No agent of the state of Missouri shall seek, impose, affirm, or inflict a sentence of death on the basis of race, or seek, defend, impose, affirm, or inflict a sentence of death that any agent of the state of Missouri at any point sought or imposed on the basis of race.

            2. A claim that race was the basis of the decision to seek or impose a death sentence may be established if the court finds that at the time the defendant's death sentence was sought or imposed, race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose death sentences in any county, city not within a county, judicial circuit, or the state at large.

            3. Evidence relevant to establish a finding that at the time the defendant's death sentence was sought or imposed, race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose a sentence of death in any county, city not within a county, judicial circuit, or the state at large, may include statistical evidence or other evidence, including but not limited to, sworn testimony of attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, jurors, or other members of the criminal justice system or both of the following:

            (1) Evidence that irrespective of statutory factors, death sentences were sought or imposed significantly more frequently on persons of one race than on persons of another race, or evidence that irrespective of statutory factors death sentences were sought or imposed significantly more frequently when the victim was of one race than when the victim was of another race, or that race was a significant factor in decisions to exercise peremptory challenges during jury selection; and

            (2) Evidence that the prosecution is unable to justify the racial disparities demonstrated by the defendant by identifying other, legitimate sentencing considerations that when tested statistically, adequately explain the apparent racial disparities.

            4. The defendant has the burden of proving that at the time his or her death sentence was imposed, race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the sentence of death in any county, city not within a county, judicial circuit, or the state at large. The prosecution may offer evidence in rebuttal of the claims or evidence of the defendant. The prosecution may rebut a statistical showing of statewide racial disparities by introducing statistical evidence or other evidence demonstrating that at the time the defendant's death sentence was sought or imposed no racial discrimination occurred in the county, or city not within a county, where the defendant's sentence of death was sought or imposed. The court may consider evidence of any program, implemented prior to the defendant's trial whose purpose was to eliminate racial disparities, in its evaluation of whether the prosecution has adequately addressed those disparities.

            5. The defendant shall state with particularity how the evidence supports a claim that at the time his or her death sentence was sought or imposed, race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the sentence of death in any county, city not within a county, judicial circuit, or the state at large. The claim shall be raised by the defendant either by pretrial motion or in post-conviction proceedings under Missouri supreme court rule 24.035 or 29.15. The court shall schedule a hearing on the claim and shall prescribe a time for the submission of evidence by both parties. If the court finds that at the time the defendant's death sentence was sought or imposed, race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the sentence of death in any county, city not within a county, judicial circuit, or the state at large the court shall order that a sentence of death shall not be sought against the defendant or that the defendant's death sentence, imposed by the judgment, shall be vacated and the defendant re-sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for probation, parole, or release except by act of the governor.

            6. Grant or denial of a pretrial motion under this section in a trial court shall be immediately appealable to the supreme court of Missouri, and the defendant shall not be brought to trial until the appeal and any certiorari proceeding arising from it is resolved.

            7. Notwithstanding any other provision or time limitation contained in Missouri supreme court rules 24.035 and 29.15, a defendant may seek relief from a death sentence against him or her on the ground that racial considerations played a significant part in the decision to seek or impose his or her death sentence by filing a motion seeking relief. The motion shall be filed in the ordinary course of the defendant's pending case or post-conviction relief proceeding, or within one year of the effective date of this section, whichever is the later.

            8. Notwithstanding any provision of Missouri supreme court rules 24.035 and 29.15, except as specifically stated in subdivisions (1) and (2) of subsection 3 of this section, the procedures and hearing on the motion seeking relief from the defendant's death sentence on the ground that at the time his or her death sentence was imposed, race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the sentence of death in any county, city not within a county, judicial circuit, or the state at large, shall follow and comply with Missouri supreme court rules 42 to 81. Any appeal from the grant or denial of relief in a post-conviction relief motion or in a separate motion under this section shall be as in a civil case, and in the trial and appellate courts the defendant shall have the right to constitutionally effective counsel.

            9. The provisions of this section shall be applied retroactively.

            Section B. Because immediate action is necessary to protect the citizens of this state from executions that are motivated by racial bias, this act is deemed necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, peace, and safety, and is hereby declared to be an emergency act within the meaning of the constitution, and this act shall be in full force and effect upon its passage and approval.