Death Penalty Cases book cover

Death Penalty Cases

Leading U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Capital Punishment

Death Penalty Cases presents significant verbatim excerpts of death-penalty decisions from the United States Supreme Court. The first chapter introduces the topics discussed throughout the book. It also includes a detailed history of the death penalty in the United States. After this introduction, the remaining eighteen chapters are divided into five parts: Foundational Cases, Death-Eligible Crimes and Persons, The Death Penalty Trial, Post-Conviction Review, and Execution Issues. The first part, consisting of five chapters, talks about the mandatory death penalty, mitigating evidence and racial bias. The next part covers death-eligible crimes, such as rape and other crimes that do not involve homicide and murder. The middle part presents the trial process, from choosing the appropriate decision-makers through the sentencing decision. Followed by this is a chapter focusing on the aftermath of conviction, such as claims of innocence. The book concludes by exploring issues related to execution, such as not executing insane convicts. Finally, execution methods are presented.

Undergraduate and graduate students in criminal justice, criminal law, issues, ethics, and civil rights courses. Has some potential as a primary text for courses in the death penalty and special topics courses.

Paperback, 456 Pages

Published: November 2010

Imprint: Butterworth Heinemann

ISBN: 978-0-12-382024-2


  • "Barry Latzer and David McCord’s latest edition of Death Penalty Cases breaks new ground in providing thoughtful and balanced analysis of all important legal issues surrounding the death penalty. From the subject of why we should have (or not have) capital punishment, to the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on cruel and unusual punishment, to victim impact evidence and claims of actual innocence, the inquiring reader will find penetrating dissections of every major topic swirling around the death penalty debate. This book moves far beyond sloganeering to expose the fault lines in the debates and gives both sides their due. For anyone who truly wants to understand the law surrounding capital punishment, Death Penalty Cases Third Edition is a 'must read." --Paul G. Cassell, Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law-University of Utah

    "This volume is a gem. Latzer and McCord have carefully selected and edited landmark Supreme Court decisions encompassing the justice’s far-ranging, fascinating, and inevitably controversial capital punishment jurisprudence. The result is a compact, highly useful, comprehensive, and-to their great credit-balanced and even-handed representation of the complex constitutional, ethical, and empirical issues that distinguish this compelling body of law. " --James R. Acker, Distinguished Teaching Professor, School of Criminal Justice, SUNY-Albany

    "Given the attention paid to the death penalty by judges, lawyers and the public, I always have been surprised by the difficulty of finding a first-rate casebook to teach the subject. With this book, Barry Latzer and David McCord have admirably met that challenge. Their organization, with cases edited to just the right level of comprehensiveness for teaching, sets out the perfect blueprint from which the student can build an understanding of the intricacies of the Supreme Court's death penalty jurisprudence." --Scott Sundby, Sydney and Francis Lewis Professor, Washington and Lee University School of Law

    "The chief strengths of Death Penalty Cases are that it is beautifully edited and that it is comprehensive, and the new structure of the third edition -- organized around five sections -- is brilliant." --Beau Breslin, PhD, Assistant Dean of the Faculty, Director of the First-Year Experience, and Professor of Government, Skidmore College


  • Preface

    Table of cases

    Chapter 1 Capital Punishment in America

    Part I: Foundational Cases

        Chapter 2 Cruel and Unusual as Applied-Furman v. Georgia (1972)

        Chapter 3 Not Inherently Unconstitutional-Gregg v. Georgia (1976)

        Chapter 4 Mandatory Death Penalty-Woodson v. North Carolina (1976)

        Chapter 5 Mitigating Evidence-Lockett v. Ohio (1978) and Jurek v. Texas (1976)

        Chapter 6 Racial Bias-McCleskey v. Kemp (1987)

    Part II: Death-Eligible Crimes and Persons

        Chapter 7 Rape and Other Nonhomicide Crimes-Coker v. Georgia (1977)

        Chapter 8 Murder-Godfrey v. Georgia (1980)

        Chapter 9 Felony-Murder-Enmund v. Florida (1982) and Tison v. Arizona (1987)

        Chapter 10 The Mentally Retarded and Juveniles-Atkins v. Virginia (2002) and Roper v. Simmons (2005)

        Chapter 11 Child Rape-Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008)

    Part III: The Death Penalty Trial

        Chapter 12 Appropriate Decision Makers-Spaziano v. Florida (1984) and Ring v. Arizona (2002)

        Chapter 13 Selecting Jurors-Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968), Turner v. Murray (1986), and Uttecht v. Brown (2007)

        Chapter 14 Victim Impact Evidence-Payne v. Tennessee (1991)

        Chapter 15 The Sentencing Decision-McKoy v. North Carolina (1990) and Kansas v. Marsh (2006)

    Part IV: Post-Conviction Review

        Chapter 16 Ineffective Counsel-Strickland v. Washington (1984) and Williams v. Taylor (2000)

        Chapter 17 Claims of Innocence-Herrera v. Collins (1993) and Kansas v. Marsh (2006)

    Part V: Execution Issues

        Chapter 18 Insane Convicts May Not Be Executed-Ford v. Wainwright (1986) and Panetti v.

    Quarterman (2007)

        Chapter 19 Method of Execution-Baze v. Rees (2008)

    Appendix A: Facts and Figures on Murder and the Death Penalty

    Appendix B: Understanding Statutory Provisions


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