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Gregg v. Georgia

Citation. 428 U.S. 153,96 S. Ct. 2909, 49 L. Ed. 2d 859,1976 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.

Appellant was sentenced to death for murder. Appellant argued that the application of the death penalty in this case was cruel and unusual punishment.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Society deems punishment by death to be an appropriate punishment. As long as there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect defendants, the court will allow the imposition of capital punishment.


Appellant was found guilty of two counts of armed robbery and two counts of murder. The jury returned a verdict with a sentence of death on all counts. The Georgia State Supreme Court vacated the death sentences for armed robbery. Appellant argued that Furman v. Georgia made the imposition of the death penalty unconstitutional per se.


Whether the death penalty is unconstitutional per se as in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.


Affirmed, the punishment of death is no always in violation of the Constitution.
To be unconstitutional, the punishment must be excessive. To be considered valid, the punishment must no involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and must not be grossly out of proportion to the severity of the crime.

The Court cannot invalidate a category of penalties because we deem less severe penalties adequate to serve the ends of penology.

There are sufficient safeguards in place to protect the rights of defendants faced with the death penalty.


Justice Brennan dissented, arguing that death like the punishment of being ‘on the rack’ were no longer morally tolerable. Justice Brennan would rule that the death penalty is always unconstitutional. Justice Marshall dissented arguing that the normal citizen was uninformed of the information necessary and that if they were better informed, they would find the death penalty inappropriate and shocking.


The Court ruled that capital punishment was not unconstitutional per se. The Court noted that since their ruling in Furman v. Georgia, 35 states enacted legislation designating specific offenses as punishable by death. The Court noted that citizens, through their state legislatures accepted capital punishment as an appropriate punishment. The Court noted that Georgia had instituted several safe-guards to ensure that the death penalty was properly applied which included mandatory higher court review and relaxation on evidence standards regarding what evidence the defense can prod

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