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In five decisions handed down on July 2, 1976, the United States Supreme Court held that the death penalty may be imposed for the crime of murder, so long as there are clear standards to guide the sentencing authority and the sanction is not imposed mandatorily. The authors examine the eighth amendment doctrinal framework used by the Court in the July 2 Cases, with particular reference to the requirement that individualized mitigating information be considered in the sentencing decision. Illustrating that requirement, they contend that mental disorder should be considered as a possibly mitigating factor and then suggest a standard by which the sentencing authority might evaluate evidence of mental disorders, particularly retardation and sociopathy.


Criminal Procedure | Law | Supreme Court of the United States