Cornell Law Review Volume 91 Issue 5

Wishing Petitioners to Death: Factual Misrepresentations in Fourth Circuit Capital Cases

Children are notorious for their ability to pretend, and concomitantly, their vulnerability to magical thinking. Sometimes the belief that wishing makes a thing so, or that a particular ritual causes seemingly unrelated results, is charming. Other times, the world of fantasy takes a morbid turn: Fail to watch the sidewalk carefully enough and a fracture ensues; play a circle game and reenact death by plague. Still other times, coincidence horribly distorts the significance of random magical thoughts-for example, when a jealous child wishes for the death of a sibling that subsequently occurs, leaving the child to suffer enormous guilt.


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