Lockett v. Ohio


DOCKET NO.: 76-6997
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Ohio Supreme Court

CITATION: 438 US 586 (1978)
ARGUED: Jan 17, 1978
DECIDED: Jul 03, 1978

Anthony G. Amsterdam – Argued the cause for the petitioner
Carl M. Layman, III – Argued the cause for the respondent

Facts of the case

An Ohio law required that individuals found guilty of aggravated murder be given the death penalty. The death penalty was mandatory unless: 1) the victim had induced the offense, 2) the offense was committed under duress or coercion, or 3) the offense was a product of mental deficiencies. Sandra Lockett, who had encouraged and driven the getaway car for a robbery that resulted in the murder of a pawnshop owner, was found guilty under the statute and sentenced to death.


Did the Ohio law violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by limiting the consideration of mitigating factors?

Media for Lockett v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 17, 1978 in Lockett v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – July 03, 1978 in Lockett v. Ohio

Warren E. Burger:

I have the judgment to announce in two cases, 76-6997 Lockett against Ohio and 76-6513, Bell against Ohio.

Each of these involving the death penalty statutes of the state of Ohio and for reasons stated in an opinion of four of the justices supported by others who joined the judgment.

The judgment of Supreme Court of Ohio is affirmed as to the judgment of conviction in each case, but reversed in each case to the extent that those judgments sustain the imposition of the death penalty.

And the cases are each remanded to that court for further proceedings, not inconsistent with this Court’s judgments.

Justices White, Marshall, Blackmun and Rehnquist, each filed separate opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Mr. Justice Brennan took no part in either the consideration or the decision of the case.