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Payne v. Tennessee - Significance, The Crime, The Trial, A Defendant's Rights, Further Readings

court victim evidence petitioner


Supreme Court of Tennessee


Pervis Tyrone Payne

Petitioner's Claim

That the conviction of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault with intent to murder in the first degree should be upheld on the grounds that rights under the Eighth Amendment were not violated by the introduction of victim impact evidence.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

J. Brooke Lathram

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Charles W. Burson, Attorney General of Tennessee

Justices for the Court

Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist (writing for the Court), Antonin Scalia, David H. Souter, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Harry A. Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

27 June 1991


The Court affirmed the conviction and the sentence.

The Future of Victim Impact Evidence

As of 1999 49 states had some form of a statute permitting the introduction of victim impact evidence. Although a defendant's appeal of a capital case verdict on constitutional grounds may seem spurious in some instances, this federal challenge must be upheld. When a person opposes the state, both verdict and sentence must be able to withstand close constitutional scrutiny. This legal debate is sure to remain heated for some time to come.

Related Cases

  • Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976).
  • Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. 280 (1976).
  • Booth v. Maryland, 482 U.S. 496 (1987).
Pennsylvania v. Muniz - Significance, Exception From Miranda's Coverage, Exceptions Undermine Miranda, Impact [next] [back] Paula Coughlin v. the Las Vegas Hilton: 1994 - The President Is Briefed On The Situation, Report Cites 90 Victims, Coughlin Sues Hilton

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about 9 years ago

you have a major error:

you wrote:
"It emphasized that it did not preclude the possibility of an Eighth Amendment violation, but that "such evidence was per se inadmissible in the sentencing phase of a capital case except to the extent that it related directly to the circumstances of the crime." "

You forgot "such evidence was NOT per se inadmissible".

Booth held that such evidence was per se inadmissible. Payne overturned Booth in that regard. You copied and pasted the wrong part of the decision...