Morgan v. Illinois

PETITIONER:Derrick Morgan
LOCATION: First Municipal District Circuit Court of Cook County

DOCKET NO.: 91-5118
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Illinois

CITATION: 504 US 719 (1992)
ARGUED: Jan 21, 1992
DECIDED: Jun 15, 1992

Allen H. Andrews, III – on behalf of the Petitioner
Kenneth L. Gillis – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

In the Illinois judicial system, the jury chosen to determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence also sentenced the defendant. And, the trial court, not the attorneys, performedvoir dire, which involves questioning potential jurors during jury selection to determine their ability to be impartial. Before Derrick Morgan’s capital murder trial, he requested that the court ask the potential jurors whether they would automatically sentence him to the death penalty upon conviction. The trial court denied Morgan’s request, and he was convicted and sentenced to death. When he appealed, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision, Morgan’s conviction, and his sentence.


Do the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment’s impartial jury requirement bar a state from refusing to ask whether a potential juror would automatically vote to impose the death penalty upon a defendant convicted of a capital offense?

Media for Morgan v. Illinois

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 21, 1992 in Morgan v. Illinois

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 15, 1992 in Morgan v. Illinois

Byron R. White:

The second case is Morgan against Illinois, No.91-5118.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Illinois is reversed in this case.

Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion and he is joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Thomas.