COKER v. GEORGIA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
75-5444
Petitioner 
Coker
Respondent 
Georgia
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 1974, Erlich Anthony Coker, serving a number of sentences for murder, rape, kidnapping, and assault, escaped from prison. He broke into a Georgia couple's home, raped the woman and stole the family's car. The woman was released shortly thereafter, without further injuries. The Georgia courts sentenced Coker to death on the rape charge.

Question 

Was the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of rape a form of cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Coker, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 8: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that the death penalty was a "grossly disproportionate" punishment for the crime of rape. The Court noted that nearly all states at that time declined to impose such a harsh penalty, with Georgia being the only state that authorized death for the rape of an adult woman. Because rape did not involve the taking of another human life, the Court found the death penalty excessive "in its severity and revocability."

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COKER v. GEORGIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1976/1976_75_5444>.
COKER v. GEORGIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1976/1976_75_5444 (last visited October 29, 2014).
"COKER v. GEORGIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 29, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1976/1976_75_5444.