This book chapter examines the role that concerns about finality have played in both capital cases and juvenile life-without-parole sentencing cases. It will describe how finality has shaped the Supreme Court’s death penalty cases, as well as the role it has played in recent juvenile life-without-parole cases. It will then offer some tentative thoughts on whether the non-capital finality concerns – specifically, the perceived need for post-sentencing assessments – should be extended to capital defendants and how post-sentencing assessments might inform the ongoing debate over the death penalty abolition in the United States.

Hessick, Carissa Byrne, Finality and the Capital/Non-Capital Punishment Divide (November 29, 2017). Final Judgments: The Death Penalty in American Law and Culture (A. Sarat ed.), 2017; ISBN-10: 1107155487; UNC Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3079883

Carissa Byrne Hessick

University of North Carolina School of Law

Carissa Byrne Hessick is the Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland "Buck" Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at UNC School of Law.  Professor Hessick’s areas of research and expertise include criminal sentencing, criminal law, and child pornography.

She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and winner of the Potter Stewart Prize for the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals. After graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge Barbara S. Jones on the Southern District of New York and for Judge A. Raymond Randolph on the D.C. Circuit. She also worked as a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City. Before joining the faculty at Carolina Law, Professor Hessick taught on the faculties at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. She also spent two years as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School.


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