McGautha v. California

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McGautha v. California
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 9, 1970
Decided May 3, 1971
Full case name McGautha v. California
Citations 402 U.S. 183 (more)
91 S. Ct. 1454; 28 L. Ed. 2d 711; 1971 U.S. LEXIS 107
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Harlan, joined by Burger, Stewart, White, Blackmun
Concurrence Black
Dissent Douglas, joined by Brennan, Marshall
Dissent Brennan, joined by Douglas, Marshall

McGautha v. California, 402 U.S. 183 (1971) is a criminal case heard by the United States Supreme Court, in which the Court held that the lack of legal standards by which juries imposed the death penalty was not an unconstitutional violation of the due process clause portion of the Eighth Amendment.[1]:467 Justice Harlan wrote that writing rules for jury death penalty decisions was beyond current human ability.[1]:467 The context was public and philosophical scrutiny of the unequal application of the death penalty, especially in that black who killed whites were much more likely to have a death penalty imposed.[1]:467 McGautha was overruled one year later by Furman v. Georgia, which held that sentencing discretion must be narrowed "so as to minimize the risk of wholly arbitrary and capricious action."


  1. ^ a b c Criminal Law - Cases and Materials, 7th ed. 2012, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business; John Kaplan, Robert Weisberg, Guyora Binder, ISBN 978-1-4548-0698-1, [1]

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