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New Ruling May Bolster Death Penalty Appeal; Scott Petersen Case

Publication Date: 
July 18, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Professor Robert Weisberg spoke with Bob Egelko from the San Francisco Chronicle about convicted murderer Scott Peterson's prospects for overturning his death sentence.

Scott Peterson's prospects for overturning his death sentence may have improved this week.

Peterson, convicted of the Christmas Eve 2002 murders of his wife, Laci, and their 8-month-old fetus, filed his appeal July 5 with the state Supreme Court. One issue his lawyer raised was the trial judge's dismissals of 13 prospective jurors who said in pretrial questionnaires that they opposed the death penalty but might be able to vote for a death verdict in a proper case.


The two cases are not identical, however, because the prospective juror in Riccardi's case gave conflicting answers that left her position on the death penalty unclear. Robert Weisberg, a Stanford law professor, said those differences would weigh against Peterson.

In Riccardi's case, Weisberg said, the court appeared to be saying that a judge must question a prospective juror whose written answers result in "confused ambiguity." That didn't occur with Peterson's jurors, he said, and the court is likely to defer to Delucchi's decision to dismiss them.