South Carolina Vs Gathers Case Study

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Prior to South Carolina v. Gathers (1989) 490 U.S. 805, Booth v. Maryland (1987) 482 U.S. 496, and Payne v. Tennessee (1991) 501 U.S. 808, victims did not have a voice in criminal cases other than reporting a crime, and testifying at trial. Unlike the offender, victims were relegated to sit in abeyance until the trial was over. In Linda R.S. v. Richard D. (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a crime victim couldn’t coerce a criminal prosecution because "a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or non-prosecution of another" (Donahoe, 1999). This case supported the fact that victims had little to no legal rights within a court of law. The U.S. Constitution recognizes rights for someone who commits a…show more content…
In South Carolina v. Gathers (1989), the court had to decide whether a victim impact statement could be introduced if it related to the crime. Believing so, the prosecutor rather than the victim’s family presented to the jury personal attributes concerning the victim and how the family felt the crime and the defendant. The prosecutor also read from a religious tract that was in the victim’s possession. The major difference in Gathers and Booth is the manner in which the information was presented. In Payne v. Tennessee (1991), the Supreme Court stated that the state made a mistake in their interpretation of Booth, and, as a result, misapplied the ruling of the Supreme Court to their case. They further stated, “In the majority of cases, and in this case, victim impact evidence serves entirely legitimate purposes. In the event that evidence is introduced that is so unduly prejudicial that it renders the trial fundamentally unfair, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides a mechanism for…show more content…
Tennessee (1991), the Supreme Court made significant changes in how Supreme Court cases would be interpreted, as well as changing the court's stance on victim impact statements and the Eighth Amendment. The court held that the Eighth Amendment does not prohibit a capital sentencing jury from hearing victim impact statements and the effects the crime has on family members. The U.S. Supreme Court developed the law governing the use of victim impact statements by authorizing courts to begin allowing the statements as evidence. The Supreme Court revolutionized its way of thinking and began to recognize the rights of victims just as the court recognized the rights of
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