This article relies too much on references to primary sources . (December 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Thompson v. Oklahoma|
|Argued November 9, 1987|
Decided June 29, 1988
|Full case name||William Wayne Thompson v. State of Oklahoma|
|Citations||487 U.S. 815 ( more )|
|Prior||Defendant tried as an adult and convicted of murder of his brother-in-law, who had been abusing his ex-wife, who was Thompson's sister; was found guilty; and was sentenced to death. Appealed to Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma, decision affirmed, 1986 OK CR 130, 724 P.2d 780. Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court, granted writ of certiorari , 479 U.S. 1084(1987).|
|The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 16 when their crimes were committed.|
|Plurality||Stevens, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun|
|Dissent||Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White|
|Kennedy took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.|
|U.S. Const. amends. VIII, XIV|
Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988), was the first case since the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in the United States in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a minor on grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment."The holding in Thompson was expanded on by Roper v. Simmons (2005), where the Supreme Court extended the "evolving standards" rationale to those under 18 years old.
William Wayne Thompson was a 15-year-old repeat offender from Grady County, Oklahoma. His sister, Vicki, was married to Charles Keene, who was accused of beating Vicki and William. William and three other men (Tony Mann, Richard Jones and Bobby Glass) then kidnapped Charles on the night of January 23, 1983 in Amber, Oklahoma. Charles attempted to escape, running to neighbor John "Possum" Brown's door. He reportedly knocked on the door and screamed, "Possum, open the door, they're going to kill me". Brown opened the door, only to see four men dragging Keene from the door and beating him. When Brown called the police, the assailants grabbed Keene and fled.
Keene's body was found later in the nearby river, his body split throat to abdomen. He had multiple bruises and two gunshot wounds, along with a concrete block tied to his legs. William was arrested after Vicki confessed to the police that William said that "he had taken care of him." The three other assailants were convicted of murder and sentenced to death; Richard Jones later had his sentence repealed. Bobby Glass was murdered in prison. After Thompson was arrested he underwent psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was eligible to stand trial as an adult. He was found responsible for his deeds and convicted by the District Court of Grady County in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He was sentenced to death by the jury.
Thompson's attorneys first attempted to appeal the case on the basis of inflammatory photographs used by the prosecution to allegedly provoke the jury. Although the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals found that two of the photographs should have been excluded from the trial, the overwhelming evidence meant that the case was affirmed by the appellate court.
Due to Thompson's rapidly approaching execution, his attorneys subsequently filed his case with the Supreme Court, saying that the execution of a juvenile was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment's "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" clause.
The Court voted 5-3 in favor of Thompson (Justice Kennedy did not participate), holding that Thompson's execution would violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. A plurality opinion by Justice Stevens noted the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" as a primary rationale for the decision- an opinion that was strongly rejected in Justice Scalia"s dissent. The plurality also noted that numerous U.S. jurisdictions and all industrialized Western nations had banned the execution of minors under 16 years of age.
Thompson was later resentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. As of 2015, William Wayne Thompson and Tony Mann are still incarcerated. Thompson was granted parole in 2003, but that was later overturned by the governor. His sister Vicki is currently campaigning to parole her brother.
The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments. This amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the United States Bill of Rights. The phrases in this amendment originated in the English Bill of Rights of 1689.
Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), was a criminal case in which the United States Supreme Court struck down all death penalty schemes in the United States in a 5–4 decision, with each member of the majority writing a separate opinion. Following Furman, in order to reinstate the death penalty, states had to at least remove arbitrary and discriminatory effects, to satisfy the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the United States, currently used by 29 states, the federal government, and the military. Its existence can be traced to the beginning of the American colonies. The United States is the only developed Western nation that applies the death penalty regularly. It is one of 54 countries worldwide applying it, and was the first to develop lethal injection as a method of execution, which has since been adopted by five other countries. The Philippines has since abolished executions, and Guatemala has done so for civil offenses, leaving the United States as one of four countries to still use this method.
Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), was a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18. The 5–4 decision overruled Stanford v. Kentucky, in which the court had upheld execution of offenders at or above age 16, and overturned statutes in 25 states.
The People of the State of California v. Robert Page Anderson, 493 P.2d 880, 6 Cal. 3d 628, was a landmark case in the state of California that outlawed – at least, temporarily – the use of capital punishment. It was subsequently superseded by a 1972 state constitutional amendment, Proposition 17.
Napoleon Beazley was an African-American convicted murderer executed by lethal injection by the State of Texas for the murder of white 63-year-old businessman John Luttig in 1994. Beazley shot Luttig in his garage on April 19, 1994 in order to steal his family's car. Beazley also shot at Luttig's wife, but he missed and she survived the assault by playing dead. Beazley carried out the crime with two accomplices, Cedrick and Donald Coleman, who later testified against him. Both are serving life sentences in prison.
Oregon v. Guzek, 546 U.S. 517 (2006), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution does not grant criminal defendants facing the death penalty the right to introduce new evidence of their innocence during sentencing that was not introduced during trial. Accordingly, states could constitutionally exclude such evidence from the sentencing phase of a capital trial.
Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U.S. 957 (1991), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause allowed a state to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the possession of 672 grams of cocaine.
Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003), decided the same day as Ewing v. California, held that there would be no relief by means of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus from a sentence imposed under California's three strikes law as a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. Relying on the reasoning of Ewing and Harmelin v. Michigan, the Court ruled that because no "clearly established" law held that a three-strikes sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, the 50-years-to-life sentence imposed in this case was not cruel and unusual punishment.
Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361 (1989), was a United States Supreme Court case that sanctioned the imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were at least 16 years of age at the time of the crime. This decision came one year after Thompson v. Oklahoma, in which the Court had held that a 15-year-old offender could not be executed because to do so would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In 2003, the Governor of Kentucky Paul E. Patton commuted the death sentence of Kevin Stanford, an action followed by the Supreme Court two years later in Roper v. Simmons overruling Stanford and holding that all juvenile offenders are exempt from the death penalty.
Capital punishment for juveniles in the United States existed until March 1, 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in Roper v. Simmons.
Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008), is a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that the Eighth Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause prohibits imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child in cases where the victim did not die and death was not intended.
Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U.S. 130 (1879), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court affirmed the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Utah in stating that execution by firing squad, as prescribed by the Utah territorial statute, was not cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." The four essential protections included are prohibitions against, for the same offense:
Scott Allen Hain was the last person executed in the United States for crimes committed as a minor. Hain was executed by Oklahoma for a double murder–kidnapping he committed when he was 17 years old.
The United States Constitution contains several provisions related to criminal sentencing.
Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149 (1990), is a U.S. Supreme Court Case that held that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments do not require mandatory appellate review of death penalty cases, and that individuals cannot file cases as next friend without prior relationship to the appellant.
Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. ___ (2016), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that its previous ruling in Miller v. Alabama (2012), that a mandatory life sentence without parole should not apply to persons convicted of murder committed as juveniles, should be applied retroactively. This decision potentially affects up to 2,300 cases nationwide.
Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994), is a United States Supreme Court case holding that, where a capital defendant's future dangerousness is at issue, and the only alternative sentence available is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the sentencing jury must be informed that the defendant is ineligible for parole.