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Furman V. Georgia

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Ryan Owens

on 13 December 2013

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Transcript of Furman V. Georgia

Case Background
There was no majority opinion written for Furman, but Justice Potter Stewart captured the thought of a critical group of justices when he wrote, "These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual."
The Plaintiff decided that they really wanted was execution.
Relief Sought
Justices on the supreme court case
Furman V. Georgia
Furman was a convicted felon who was the central figure in Furman v. Georgia, the case in which the United States Supreme Court outlawed most uses of the death penalty in the United States. Furman had a six-grade education and was judged "emotionally disturbed and mentally impaired.
William Henry Furman
Furman was burglarizing a private home when a family memeber discovered him. He tried to flee, and doing so he tripped and fell. the gun he was holding went off and killed a resident of the home. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Associate Justices
William O. Douglas · William J. Brennan, Jr.
Potter Stewart · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. · William Rehnquis
The Decision
Decision: 5 votes for Furman, 4 vote(s) against
!!!!Not Guilty!!!!
Date: June 29, 1972
Justices voted for the majority
William O. Douglas, William J. Brennan, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White, Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Potter Stewart
Byron R. White
William J. Bennan
William O. Douglas

Justices Voted against
Warren E. Burger, Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, Jr; William H. Rehnquist,
William H. Rehnquist
Warren E. Burger
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Harry A. Blackmun
Majority opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution However, the majority could not agree as to a rationale and did not produce a controlling opinion. In fact, none of the five justices constituting the majority joined in the opinion of any other.
In a dissenting opinion joined by four members of the Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger argued that, while "the Eighth Amendment forbids the imposition of punishments that are so cruel and inhumane as to violate society's standards of civilized conduct," the amendment "most assuredly does not speak to the power of legislatures to confer sentencing discretion on juries." In his view a long history of acceptance, the legal system's "basic trust in lay jurors," and "the primacy of the legislative role" in fixing criminal punishments rendered the death penalty constitutional, even when imposed pursuant to unguided-discretion sentencing schemes.
Work Cited Page
Furman v. Georgia (1972) - New Georgia Encyclopedia
Potter Stewart
Full transcript