and Gathers>, what is your opinion in Payne?
Do you agree or disagree with Payne's attorney? Is there a cause or reason for you to change your mind about Booth and Gathers after hearing the arguments in Payne? Is there something in Payne's case, absent in the cases of Booth and Gathers that might be a ground for thinking about Payne's case differently? A special Web Page has been created to accompany the Paper Topic.
Here you will find links to all three cases as they were actually decided by the Court in 1987, 1989, and 1991, as well as to various organizations for victims' rights. In thinking about the various theories of punishment which might form a basis for your arguments, you may find the handouts on "The Aims and Limits of Punishment" and "Cruel and Unusual Punishments" to be of some use.
Jeffrie Murphy's essay on "Getting Even: The Role of the Victim," Morris's "Persons and Punishment," and Russ Shafer-Landau's "The Failure of Retributivism" in the PHILOSOPHY OF LAW text, pp. 819-853
In sorting out your opinion whether to allow the Victim Impact Statement in the sentencing phase of capital trials, you may want to glance at the Supreme Court opinions in both Furman v. Georgia , United States Supreme Court,1972, Gregg v. Georgia, United States Supreme Court, 1976, and Woodson v. North Carolina , United States Supreme Court, 1976 as well as in Coker v. Georgia, United States Supreme Court, 1977 should prove more than helpful in identifying the core principles of the Court's capital jurisprudence as well as the Court's understanding of the special relevance of the Eighth Amendment in capital cases. Links to these and other death penalty cases can be found on the special Web Page created to accompany the Paper Topic.
You may also find Van den Haag's "In Defense of the Death Penalty: A Practical and Moral Analysis" and Natanson's "Should We Execute Those Who Deserve to Die?" of some use, also in PHILOSOPHY OF LAW, pp. 873-887. Finally, the two essays by Feinberg ("The Expressive Function of Punishment" and "The Classic Debate") and the essay by Massaro ("Shame, Culture, and American Criminal Law") also in the PHILOSOPHY OF LAW text, pp. 861-899 directly tackle the fundamental question of the point and purpose of punishment which you may - at some stage - wish to sort out for yourself in deciding where you stand (come down) on the matter of the admissibility of victim impact evidence (testimony) during the sentencing phase of capital trials.
So, if you wish to receive "extra credit" answer the following questions. What are the main arguments raised in Booth> (1987) in support of the majority's opinion? What are the main arguments raised in Gathers> (1989) other than the precedent of Booth> in support of the majority's opinion? What are the main arguments raised in Payne> (1991) in support of the majority's opinion?
Drawing on the arguments presented in Booth (1987), Gathers (1989) and Payne(1991) what, in your considered opinion, is the strongest possible argument or arguments for or against the admission of victim impact testimony during the sentencing phase of a capital trial?
And, finally, do you believe there is an argument or arguments to be made for declaring that the admission of such testimony during the sentencing phase of a capital trial to be in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishments?
If so, why?
If not, why not?