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Lockett v. Ohio

Significance, Did She Deserve To Die?, Deciding Who Shall Die, The Mitigating Factors, The Evidence A Defendant Can Present


Sandra Lockett


State of Ohio

Petitioner's Claim

That the Ohio death penalty statute--which limited the number of mitigating factors that a judge passing sentence could take into account--was unconstitutional.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Anthony G. Amsterdam

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Carl M. Layman III

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart

Justices Dissenting

William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White (William J. Brennan, Jr. did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

3 July 1978


That the death penalty is so severe, it requires greater reliability than other penalties, and so statutes that limit the mitigating factors that a sentencer may take into account are indeed violations of the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Related Cases

  • United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570 (1968).
  • Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510 (1968).
  • Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).
  • Smith v. North Carolina, 459 U.S. 1056 (1982).
  • Jones v. Illinois, 464 U.S. 920 (1983).
  • Straight v. Wainwright, 476 U.S. 1132 (1986).
  • Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168 (1986).


West's Encyclopedia of American Law. St. Paul, MN: West Group, 1998.


Knappman, Edward W. Great American Trials. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980