Maynard v. Cartwright

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Maynard v. Howell
Argued April 19, 1988
Decided June 6, 1988
Full case nameMaynard v. Cartwright
Citations486 U.S. 356 (more)
108 S. Ct. 1853; 100 L. Ed. 2d 372; 1988 U.S. LEXIS 2486
Case history
PriorCartwright v. Maynard, 802 F.2d 1203 (10th Cir. 1986); on rehearing en banc, 822 F.2d 1477 (10th Cir. 1987); cert. granted, 484 U.S. 1003 (1988).
Oklahoma's statutory characterization of aggravating circumstances as "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" is unconstitutionally vague under the Eighth Amendment; the proper analysis focuses on whether the challenged aggravating circumstance adequately informs the jury as to what it must find in order to impose the death penalty, or whether it leaves the jury with unchanneled discretion to make an arbitrary and capricious decision.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
Case opinions
MajorityWhite, joined by unanimous
ConcurrenceBrennan, joined by Marshall
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. VIII

Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356 (1988), is a United States Supreme Court case in which a unanimous Court found that the "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" standard for the application of the death penalty as defined by the Eighth Amendment was too vague.[1] As such, Oklahoma's law was overturned based on Furman v. Georgia (1972).

Justice Brennan announced in a concurrence, joined by Justice Marshall, that he would adhere to his view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356 (1988).
  2. ^ Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 227, 231 (1976).

External links[edit]