Furman v. Georgia

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Furman v. Georgia
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Citation
Date decided June 29, 1972
Appealed from Supreme Court of Georgia
Followed by
Gregg v. Georgia

Facts

3 black men were sentenced to death for crimes of rape & murder in the state of Georgia. Furman v. Georgia is the consolidation of their 3 cases.

Furman was the 2nd defendant with a mental illness; he only had a 6th-grade education. In 1967, Furman had been drinking in Savannah, Georgia. He decided to rob a house while on parole. He shot through a closed door in a robbery; the bullet killed a home resident.

Procedural History

All 3 men were criminally convicted in state courts in Georgia.

Furman is convicted under the felony murder rule.

Anthony Amsterdam was the attorney for Furman at the time. Amsterdam was working for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Issues

Is the death penalty constitutional?

Is the death penalty prohibited under the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the 8th Amendment in all cases?

Holding

The death sentences imposed on Jackson, Furman, and Branch (the 3 defendants) are unconstitutional. In these 3 particular cases, the death sentences are cruel & unusual punishment.

Comments

Only the 2 justices Marshall & Brennan argued that the death penalty was unconstitutional in all cases.

  • Chief Justice Warren Burger & 3 other justices dissented in this 5-4 decision.

Resources