Gregg v. Georgia
428 U.S. 153 (1976), upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty for first-degree murder as long as the individual character of the offender and the circumstances of the crime are taken into account. A two-part proceeding was thus required, one to determine guilt or innocence, and another to determine the sentence. Opponents of a Georgia death penalty statute had claimed that it violated Eighth Amendment guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court found that the statute contained sufficient guidelines regarding jury deliberation and discretion to enable the law to be imposed without constituting arbitrary or discriminatory application. In two related cases decided the same day, the Court cautioned against states requiring mandatory death sentences for certain crimes, since such a requirement precluded the possibility of considering mitigating circumstances.
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