Mccleskey V. Kemp

964 Words4 Pages
CRJ 150 McCleskey v. Kemp The case began with Warren McCleskey, an African-American man who was sentenced to death in 1978 for killing a white police officer during the robbery of a Georgia furniture store. McCleskey appealed his conviction and sentence, relying on the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection to argue that the death penalty in Georgia was administered in a racially discriminatory -- and therefore unconstitutional--manner. Jack Boger, then director of LDF’s Capital Punishment Project, argued the case before the Supreme Court on Mr. McCleskey’s behalf. Joining him on the briefs were Julius Chambers, James Nabrit III, Anthony G. Amsterdam, Deval Patrick, Robert Stroup, Vivian Berger, and Timothy Ford. In support of McCleskey’s argument, LDF presented the United States Supreme Court with strong statistical evidence showing that race played a pivotal role in the Georgia capital punishment system. LDF introduced a landmark study by Professor David Baldus, who examined over 2,000 Georgia murder cases. Baldus concluded that in capital cases, the race of the defendant and victim determined who was sentenced to death. Specifically, Professor Baldus found that that African-Americans were more likely to receive a death sentence than any other defendants, and that African-American defendants who killed white victims were the most likely to be sentenced to death. His findings indicated that racial bias permeated the Georgia capital punishment system. Although the evidence presented by LDF gave the Court the opportunity to acknowledge and renounce the arbitrary influence of race on the administration of the death penalty, the Court found no constitutional error in a system where African-Americans and whites were treated unequally. In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Lewis F.

More about Mccleskey V. Kemp

Open Document