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Gregg Vs. Georgia

All about the supreme court case of Gregg vs. Georgia
by

Emily Robinson

on 11 April 2013

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Transcript of Gregg Vs. Georgia

By: Emily Robinson Gregg vs.
Georgia The Constitution In this case, the 8th and 14th amendment were the two that led this case to the supreme court. Gregg On November 21, 1973, Troy Leon Gregg had committed the crime of an armed robbery and murder of 2 men. Furman Vs. Georgia William Henry Furman was robbing a house and had killed the resident that lived in the house. Gregg and his companion, Floyd Allen, were picked up along the highway in Northern Florida by Bob Moore and Fred Simmons That night, they stopped at a rest stop and the next morning, the bodies of Moore and Simmons were found in a ditch nearby. Another man, Dennis Weaver was picked up and was dropped off in Atlanta at 11:00pm 2 days later, Weaver talked to the police who were able to find Allen and Gregg in Asheville North Carolina Gregg had a .25 caliber pistol with him, and later admitted to killing Simmons and Moore and then robbing them after wards Background Miranda Vs. Arizona Case
Since the Miranda case, the Miranda rights were established that made officers provide a statement before any person may be arrested
The police gave Gregg the Miranda rights and it was then that he pleaded guilty, which was later on used in his trial Prior to Gregg's case, in 1972, the supreme court had ruled that the death penalty systems were unconstitutional violations of the 8th amendment in certain cases However, Gregg later became the first individual after that whose death sentence was upheld by the supreme court after it had been outlawed by many states The 8th Amendment: The 14th Amendment: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. He was later tried in court and convicted of murder and sentenced to death. However in the Supreme Court, with a 5-4 vote, they had overturned the decision of Furman's execution The court stated that unless a uniform policy of determining who is eligible for capital punishment exists, the death penalty will be regarded as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Results of Furman Vs. Georgia It had required states to prevent random, racial, unfair results by giving juries guidance to apply the death penalty fairly. States created new laws and a system for the death penalty cases. The first thing is the jury decides if the defendant is guilty of murder. The second thing is the jury can hear new evidence to decide if the defendant deserves the death penalty. Since this case dealt with capital punishment, the state of Georgia chose to develop new guidelines. Once a person is convicted in a capital trial, the jury must determine, in the penalty phase, whether any unique aggravating and mitigating circumstances such as the defendant's youth, mental capacity, or childhood abuse should be considered before the court decides whether to impose a death sentence. Final Decision The Supreme Court said the new laws were valid under the Eighth Amendment and that America was allowed to keep the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld jury guidelines and with the Gregg decision and according to some, launched the modern era of capital punishment. U.S. Supreme Court Warren E. Burger Conservative
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Conservative
Harry A. Blackmun Conservative
William J. Brennan Jr. Liberal
John Paul Stevens Conservative
Thurgood Marshall Liberal
Byron R. White Conservative
Potter Stewart Liberal
William H. Rehnquist Conservative Chief Justice Associate Justices Gregg's Side Once police found him he had pleaded guilty to killing the two men Allen told a detective about the slayings and Gregg had admitted that Allen's account were accurate. He indicated that he had shot Simmons and Moore because of fear and in self-defense The trial judge instructed the jury that it could recommend either a death sentence or a life in prison sentence on each count.

Finally, the judge instructed the jury that it "would not be authorized to consider the penalty of death" unless it found these things to be true
That the offense of murder was committed while the offender was engaged in the commission of two other capital felonies, to-wit the armed robbery of [Simmons and Moore].
That the offender committed the offense of murder for the purpose of receiving money and the automobile described in the indictment. At the penalty stage, neither the prosecutor nor Gregg's lawyer offered any additional evidence. Both counsel, however, made lengthy arguments dealing generally with the propriety of capital punishment under the circumstances and with the weight of the evidence of guilt. Georgia's Side Gregg applied for a writ of certiorari to challenge his death sentence because he believed it was, "cruel and unusual" punishment and was in violation of the Eighth and the Fourteenth Amendments. Gregg had then attacked the 7th statutory aggravating circumstance, which authorizes the imposition of the death penalty if the murder was "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind, or an aggravated battery to the victim," He also argued that two of the circumstances are vague, and so then susceptible of widely differing interpretations Gregg also claims that the procedure of the courts had also resulted in an inadequate basis for measuring the proportion of the sentence because of the cases they used to compare with his were only ones that considered appealed murder cases where a life sentence had been imposed. The justices didn't think Gregg's argument established that the Georgia court's review process was ineffective. Although he further complained about the Georgia court's current practice of using some pre-Furman cases in its comparative examination, this practice was necessary at the inception of the new procedure in the absence of any post-Furman capital cases available for comparison On July 2, 1976 the Supreme Court found Gregg guilty and sentenced him to death. It was a 7-2 vote Dissenting Opinion The fact that the community demands the murderer’s life in return for the evil he has done cannot sustain the death penalty. Under standards, the taking of life “because the wrongdoer deserves it” surely must fall, for such a punishment has as its very basis the total denial of the wrongdoer’s dignity and worth. The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the convictions and the imposition of the death sentence for murder, but it vacated the death sentence imposed for armed robbery on grounds that the death penalty had rarely been imposed in Georgia for that offense. The Supreme Court held the case and the issue before the Court was whether capital punishment violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. The majority of the Court held that it did not because
capital punishment accords with contemporary standards of decency
capital punishment may serve some deterrent or retributive purpose that is not degrading to human dignity So court had ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional as then administered Sites academic.cengage.com/.../capital_punishment_GreggVGeorgia.pdf Impact in Court America Afterwards This Supreme Court decision has had profound consequences in the criminal justice system in the past three decades. Gregg vs. Georgia reinstated capital punishment four years after the court declared all death penalty statutes unconstitutional. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/254 When the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, the reason was that jurors had so much discretion that they applied this punishment arbitrarily. After wards state legislatures developed new procedures to guide decision-making. Death penalty cases were divided into two parts. While nearly 70% of Americans prefer capital punishment, because they have reinstated the death penalty as a legal punishment, there have been many innocent people killed also because of this. There are currently 16 states that no longer have the death penalty and 34 that still do allow it Majority Oppinion Written by Associate Justice Potter Stewart The death penalty is an excessive penalty forbidden by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. From Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall The Furman case centered on those defendants who were being condemned to death. With Georgia's new sentencing procedures the jury’s can focus their attention on the characteristics of the individual defendant. While the jury is permitted to consider any aggravating circumstances it must find and identify at least one statutory aggravating factor before it may impose a penalty of death. They decided the statutory system under which Gregg was sentenced to death does not violate the Constitution. http://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/death-penalty-101 www.oyez.org www.law.cornell.edu kids.laws.com billofrightsinstitute.org www2.maxwell.syr.edu www.law2.umkc.edu targetpointingconsulting.com www.wikepedia.com www.enote.com http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Furman+v.+Georgia
Until Furman v. Georgia, the Court never confronted the claim that the punishment of death, regardless of the enormity of the offense or the procedure followed in imposing the sentence, is cruel and unusual punishment and in violation of the Constitution.
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