Court Cases that Deal with the 14th Amendment
Woodson v. North Carolina
8th and 14th amendment- criminal procedure: cruel + unusual punishment, death penalty
North Carolina made the death penalty mandatory for all convicted 1st degree murderers. James Woodson was found guilty, and was then sentenced to death. Jurek v. Texas, Roberts v. Louisiana, Proffitt v. Florida, and Gregg v. Georgia. The Court had to decide whether the death penalty law violated the 8th and 14th amendments. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the NC law was unconstitutional. The law "departed markedly from contemporary standards, no standards to guide juries in their exercise of "the power to determine which 1st degree murderers shall live and which shall die", and finally the statute failed to allow consideration of the character and record of individual defendants before inflicting the death penalty.
Thompson v. Oklahoma
8th amendment-cruel and unusual punishment
Thompson, 15 years old, was convicted of 1st degree murder (tried as an adult), and sentenced to death. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma affirmed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari to Thompson. Would the execution of a 15 year old violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments"? Yes, the Court ruled that the execution of a person under 16 was unconstitutional. The case was then reversed and remanded.
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