|Penry v. Lynaugh|
|Argued January 11, 1989|
Decided June 26, 1989
|Full case name||Johnny Paul Penry v. Lynaugh, Director of the Texas Department of Corrections|
|Citations||492 U.S. 302 (more)|
|Prior||Writ of habeas corpus challenging death sentence denied by United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas; affirmed, 832 F.2d 915 (5th Cir. 1987); cert. granted, 487 U.S. 1233 (1988).|
|Subsequent||Subsequent death sentence affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and then the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas; affirmed by the Fifth Circuit, 215 F.3d 504 (5th Cir. 2000); sentence vacated, 532 U.S. 782 (2001).|
|The Eighth Amendment does not forbid executing the mentally disabled; however, the three "special issues" a Texas jury is required to consider before imposing the death penalty did not adequately allow the jury in Penry's sentencing hearing to consider his alleged mental disability as a mitigating factor.|
|Majority||O'Connor, joined by unanimous (Parts I, IV-A); Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens (Parts II-B, III); Rehnquist, White, Scalia, Kennedy (Parts II-A, IV-B)|
|Concur/dissent||Brennan, joined by Marshall|
|Concur/dissent||Stevens, joined by Blackmun|
|Concur/dissent||Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White, Kennedy|
|U.S. Const. amend. VIII|
|Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)|
Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302 (1989), was a United States Supreme Court case that sanctioned the death penalty for mentally disabled offenders because the Court determined executing the mentally disabled was not "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment. However, because Texas law did not allow the jury to give adequate consideration as a mitigating factor to Johnny Paul Penry's intellectual disability at the sentencing phase of his murder trial, the Court remanded the case for further proceedings. Eventually, Penry was retried for capital murder, again sentenced to death, and again the Supreme Court ruled, in Penry v. Johnson, that the jury was not able to adequately consider Penry's intellectual disability as a mitigating factor at the sentencing phase of the trial. Ultimately, Penry was spared the death penalty because of the Supreme Court's ruling in Atkins v. Virginia, which, while not directly overruling the holding in "Penry I", did give considerable negative treatment to Penry on the basis that the Eighth Amendment allowed execution of mentally disabled people.
Opinion of the Court
The Court ruled that the execution of the mentally retarded does not violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments.
Concurring and dissenting opinions
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- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 492
- List of United States Supreme Court cases
- Lists of United States Supreme Court cases by volume
- List of United States Supreme Court cases by the Rehnquist Court
- Bing, Jonathan L. (1996). "Protecting the Mentally Retarded from Capital Punishment: State Efforts Since Penry and Recommendations for the Future". N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change. 22 (1): 59–151.
- Hagenah, Patricia (1990). "Imposing the Death Sentence on Mentally Retarded Defendants: The Case of Penry v. Lynaugh". UMKC Law Review. 59 (1): 135–153.