NPR launches a project examining discrimination in America.
Arizona Supreme Court says juries can consider lesser charges
The Arizona Supreme Court says a jury can consider lesser charges against a defendant, even if the defense and prosecution don’t want them to.
The court’s unanimous ruling upholds a man’s conviction for manslaughter, even though prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder. The defendant’s lawyers claimed on appeal that he deserved an “all or nothing defense.” His lawyers also argued that the judge didn’t have the authority to let the jury consider a lesser charge.
The state Supreme Court ruled that judges should consider defense and prosecution objections, but there’s no reason not to allow juries to debate a lesser charge if it’s supported by evidence in the case.