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Nevada rankings on US Supreme Court of state death penalty cases

The United States Supreme Court has not granted certiorari and reviewed a Nevada death penalty case in over a decade. In fact, since Furman, the Court has reviewed a Nevada death penalty case only three times: Sumner v. Shuman (1987, holding that mandatory death sentences are invalid -- even for prison inmates serving a life sentence who are convicted of a murder in prison), Riggins v. Nevada (1992, forced administration of an antipsychotic drug during trial), and Godinez v. Moran (1993) (competency standard for waiver of counsel and to plead guilty).

If my research is correct (and it may be slightly off), the United States Supreme Court has granted review of 196 death penalty cases (not including summary grants, vacates and remands or orders on stays). My initial impression was that some states receive a disproportionate amount of review from the high court: Texas, Florida and Arizona immediately came to mind. I did some research -- which is still preliminary -- and found the following:
Texas has had 26 cases reviewed by the Court since 1972. Other states receiving signficiant review are: Florida (22), Georgia (2), California (16), Virginia (16) and Arizona (15). Nevada ranks 16th in number of death penalty cases reviewed by the Court.

I then though that perhaps the number of certiorari reviews might be directly related to the number of executions, as the Court would be more likely to take a case following federal habeas review in the Circuit -- which comes near the end of the process. I learned that in using this method, Tennessee inmates receive the most review per execution as there have been five certiorari grants and only 2 executions, or .4 executions per cert. grant. Other states receiving significant review per execution are: Idaho (.5), Pennsylvania (.6), California (.8), and Kentucky (1). Nevada ranked 15th, with 4 executions per Supreme Court case. The national average was 5.4 executions per case.

Another approach is to consider the number of people on death row, plus the number who have been executed, per case heard by the Court. This approach accounts more for certiorari grants based upon state court judgments and general population (though it does not include exonerations, natural deaths, homicides and suicides). Under this analysis, Maryland receives the greatest attention, with one out of every 4.3 inmates receiving review by the high court. Other states with a high level of review are: Washington (6.5), Georgia (7.3), Virginia (7.4), Illinois (7.7) and Kansas (9). The national average is one Supreme Court case per 22.5 inmates. Nevada ranks 21st, with 30.6 inmates per case. North Carolina inmates are off the chart in lack of review, with 114 death row inmates per Supreme Court case.

My report is available here. Again, this is preliminary and I'm sure that some of the data can use refinement.

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