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Coker V. GA 1977 Case Study

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Coker V GA 1977 is a case in which the petitioner Ehrlich Anthony Coker was convicted and sentenced to death for rape. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in which the court overturned the ruling saying it violated the Eighth Amendment as being cruel and unusual punishment.

The petitioner Ehrlich Anthony Coker was already in prison for various crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping and aggravated assault, when he escaped from the correctional facility in Georgia. After escaping the facility, Mr. Coker entered into a home of a couple through an unlocked door. Mr. Coker tied the male subject up and then proceeded to rape the male subject’s wife. Mr. Coker had taken the keys to the family car and proceeded to leave
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The case was then heard before the United States Supreme Court. Four Supreme Court justices, Justice White, Justice Stewart, Justice Blackmun and Justice Stevens all concluded the sentence of death for the crime of rape is grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment is is therefore forbidden by the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment (Coker v Georgia, 433 U.S. 584, 1977). There was some variation however, between the other Justice’s sitting in on the ruling. Justice Brennan found the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Justice Marshall found the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Justice Powell found that death is disproportionate punishment for the crime of raping an adult woman where, as here, the crime was not committed with excessive brutality and the victim did not sustain serious or lasting injury (Coker v Georgia, 433 U.S. 584, 1977). The United States Supreme Court reversed the decision by the lower courts even though, not all were in agreement saying the sentence of death for rape would be disproportionate and excessive punishment making the sentence unconstitutional. Justice Powell disagreed because he believed the plurality had gone too far in holding that capital punishment is always a…show more content…
The death penalty is a bit extreme for a rape case especially when the victim was not brutally beaten or killed in the commission of the crime. Now if he had kidnapped, raped and tortured her and then killed her, yes, I can see the death penalty being enforced. Even though Justice Powell stated in his decision, the victim did not suffer serious or lasting injury, I would have to disagree with that statement. Victims of rape always have a lasting injury but that injury is usually not a physical injury, but however, a mental injury that will traumatize the victim for the rest of their life. Even if an injury cannot be seen does not mean injury has not occurred. It still would not have changed the outcome of the decision
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