1 minute read

Payne v. Tennessee

Significance, The Crime, The Trial, A Defendant's Rights, Further Readings


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).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994