By Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)
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Additional info for An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, and Federalism
12 44 A n A m e r i ca n D i l e m m a The court admitted to being “disenchanted by Virginia’s failure to embrace and abide by” the Vienna Convention. However, they found that the only relief Paraguay sought was “quintessentially retrospective,” the voiding of Breard’s conviction and sentence. ”13 The State Department also became involved in the debate over the application of the Vienna Convention in Breard’s case. They acknowledged that the Vienna Convention had been breached and issued an apology to the government of Paraguay.
39 And, in addition to comity, the court was concerned about finality. A cost of the writ of habeas corpus was the cost to finality in criminal litigation. But procedural default was one way to bring about finality. ”41 To demonstrate a “fundamental miscarriage of justice,” essentially the inmate would need to prove that he was actually innocent. But suppose the reason the constitutional claims were not raised in state court or the state procedures were not followed was due to the incompetence of the defense attorney?
They chose two major approaches to address the issue of arbitrary application of the death penalty—either the punishment could be made mandatory for every first degree murder or courts could be provided with statutory guidelines that clearly defined the criteria regulating its use. The court handed down rulings on both types of laws on the same day in 1976. In Gregg v. Georgia,15 they upheld laws providing guided discretion. In Woodson v. North Carolina,16 they found the mandatory sentence for murder unconstitutional.