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Booth v. Maryland

Significance, Victim Impact Statements, Further Readings


John Booth


State of Maryland

Petitioner's Claim

According to the Eighth Amendment, the petitioner's rights were violated because the jury was allowed to read a victim impact statement (VIS) during the sentencing phase of the trial. By allowing additional, unrelated information about how the crime impacted the family of the victim, the state had introduced prejudicial, inflammatory information which prompted the jury to impose extraordinarily severe punishment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

George E. Burns, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Charles O. Monk II

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. (writing for the Court), John Paul Stevens

Justices Dissenting

Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Byron R. White


Washington D.C.

Date of Decision

15 June 1987


Presentation of a victim impact statement (VIS) during the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial violated the Eighth Amendment, therefore, the case was remanded back to the lower court.

Related Cases

  • Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. 280 (1976).
  • People v. Levitt, 156 Cal. App. 3d 500 (1984).
  • Lodowski v. State, 302 MD 691 (1985).
  • Reid v. State, 305 ND 9 (1985).
  • Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 (1991).


"Testimony on S.J. Res. 44." American Civil Liberties Union, http://www.aclu.org.

"Victim Impact Statements: Key Findings." National Victim Center, http://www.nvc.org.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988