PENRY v. LYNAUGH

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
87-6177
Petitioner 
Penry
Respondent 
Lynaugh
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Penry, a retarded man with the mental age of barely seven years, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. During the trial's proceedings, the jury was not instructed that it could consider the mitigating circumstances of Penry's mental retardation in imposing its sentence.

Question 

Was Penry's sentence cruel and unusual punishment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Lynaugh, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 8: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The Court partially affirmed and partially reversed the lower court's decision. Justice O'Connor argued that the jury was improperly instructed and should have been told that it could have considered Penry's mental deficiencies when imposing its sentence. However, she rejected Penry's blanket claim that generally the Eighth Amendment does not allow death sentences for retarded defendants.

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PENRY v. LYNAUGH. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 31 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_6177/>.
PENRY v. LYNAUGH, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_6177/ (last visited October 31, 2014).
"PENRY v. LYNAUGH," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 31, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_6177/.