Cases & Deals

Jones Day drafts Tennessee death penalty proportionality amicus brief

Client(s) Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference

Corinio Pruitt was sentenced to death in Tennessee for committing a car-jacking, which unintentionally resulted in the death of the elderly victim. Under Tennessee state law, courts are required to review each death sentence for comparative proportionality—that is, to ensure that no sentence is excessive compared to the penalties imposed on similar defendants who committed similar crimes. In Pruitt's appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court requested amicus briefs to address whether the state should reform its procedures for conducting comparative proportionality review. We agreed to write a brief for the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference, laying out a number of procedural reforms that we think would make the system work more fairly and efficiently. In Pruitt's case, our proposed reforms would require the courts to consider other cases involving unintentional homicides where the prosecution did not seek the death penalty.

State of Tennessee v. Corinio Pruitt