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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

During the capital trial of Ardia McCree, a judge removed prospective jurors who stated that under no circumstances would they be able to impose the death penalty. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the judge's actions violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. A.L. Lockhart, the director of the Arkansas Department of Correction, appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.


During a capital trial does the Constitution prohibit the removal of prospective jurors whose opposition to the death penalty is so strong that it would prevent or substantially impair the performance of their duties at the sentencing phase of the trial?

Decision: 6 votes for Lockhart, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 6: Other Sixth Amendment Provisions

The Court found that excluding people who are unwilling under any circumstances to impose the death penalty during sentencing did not violate a defendant's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Justice Rehnquist argued that the state has a legitimate interest to impanel jurors who "can properly and impartially apply the law to the facts of the case at both the guilt and sentencing phases of a capital trial." As long as a jury is selected from a fair cross-section of the community, is impartial, and can properly apply the law to a case's circumstances, then a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial is protected.

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LOCKHART v. MCCREE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_1865>.
LOCKHART v. MCCREE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_1865 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"LOCKHART v. MCCREE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_1865.