Romano v. Oklahoma

LOCATION: Jackson Circuit Court

DOCKET NO.: 92-9093
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1993-1994)
LOWER COURT: Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals

CITATION: 512 US 1 (1994)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1994
DECIDED: Jun 13, 1994

Facts of the case


Media for Romano v. Oklahoma

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1994 in Romano v. Oklahoma

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 13, 1994 in Romano v. Oklahoma

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in No. 92-9093, Romano against Oklahoma.

In this case petitioner, Romano, was sentenced to death by an Oklahoma Trial Court.

During the sentencing phase of his trial, the State introduced evidence indicating that he had already received the death sentence in the course of an earlier trial for a different murder.

The jury in the present case ultimately found that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances and sentenced him to death.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence.

We granted certiorari and the petitioner contends here that the evidence of his earlier death sentence admitted in this trial violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we hold that the admission of this evidence did not amount to constitutional error.

The evidence of his earlier death sentence did not affirmatively mislead the jury into believing that the responsibility for sentencing him into this case lay elsewhere so as to violate the principle established by our decision in Caldwell.

And even though the evidence may have been irrelevant as a matter of state law does not make its admission a violation of the Federal Constitution.

The admission of the evidence finally did not so infect the trial with unfairness as to render the jury's imposition of the death penalty a denial of due process.

So, the judgment of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.

Justice O'Connor has filed a concurring opinion; Justice Blackmun has filed a dissenting opinion; Justice Ginsburg has also filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Blackmun, Stevens, and Souter join.