Gregg vs Georgia

Brief: GREGG V. GEORGIA 428 U.S. 153


Troy Gregg robbed and killed two men after they picked him up hitchhiking with another man. Gregg claimed it was self defense but at the trial he was found guilty of armed robbery and murder. He was then sentenced to death. He argued that the Georgia death penalty laws violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments barring cruel and unusual punishment. In accordance with Georgia procedure in capital cases, the trial was in two stages, a guilt stage and a sentencing stage. The evidence at the guilt trial established that, on November 21, 1973, Gregg and a traveling companion, Floyd Allen, while hitchhiking north in Florida were picked up by Fred Simmons and Bob Moore. Their car broke down, but they continued north after Simmons purchased another vehicle with some of the cash he was carrying. While still in Florida, they picked up another hitchhiker, Dennis Weaver, who rode with them to Atlanta, where he was let out. A short time later, the four men interrupted their journey for a rest stop along the highway. The next morning the bodies of Simmons and Moore were discovered in a ditch nearby.


Is the imposition of the death sentence prohibited under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as "cruel and unusual" punishment?


The Georgia death penalty statute does not violate the United States Constitution because it establishes a particular set of procedures to prevent the imposition of the death penalty in an arbitrary and capricious manner. By limiting the circumstances under which the death sentence could be imposed on a defendant, the statute successfully focuses the jury’s attention on the presence or absence of particular aggravating factors so as to inform their decision on whether death is an appropriate punishment in each individual case.


In order to consider the first issue, the court looked at the views of the contemporary society...