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Payne v. Tennessee (1991) Brief Case


Title and Citation

Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808, 111 S. Ct. 2597, 115 L. Ed. 2d 720, 1991 U.S. 3821. The votes- were: 6 votes for Tennessee and 3 vote(s) against.

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In 1997 Pervis Tyrone Payne went to see his girlfriend in Millington. Bobbie Thomas, his girlfriend, was heading home from Arkansas. While waiting for Thomas, Payne spent his time taking beer and infusing cocaine in his body whilst reading a magazine with pornographic content and pictures. Christopher Charisse stayed a few blocks away with her children Lacie who is 2 years, and Nicholas who is three years old. Payne went to Christopher’s apartment and started making sexual advances. Christopher resisted and screamed, requesting Payne to leave her house. Payne got mad and pulled out a butcher’s knife stabbing her 42 times. Those stabs resulted in 84 wounds causing her death due to excessive bleeding. He might have thought that to murder one woman was not enough, so he also stabbed the children killing Lacie. Fortunately, Nicholas survived. Christopher’s neighbor called the police on hearing the screams from the house. The police reached soon enough to see Payne escaping with blood all over his clothes. He was carrying a bag. On questioning Payne, he hit the police with the overnight bag on the head and ran. Before the end of the day, Payne was found by the police hiding in the house that belonged to his ex-girlfriend.


Is a capital sentencing jury prohibited by the Eighth Amendment from considering the effect the death of a victim has, upon the family members who survived?


The court found Payne guilty and did not grant him a chance to appeal. It maintained that the evidence on the manner of an impact statement given by a victim was acceptable, and legal in the litigation of a death sentence. It, therefore, disputed the two court instances.


Payne, the petitioner, was convicted of two murders plus an assail intending to commit murder. He was given a death sentence for killing Christopher and her daughter. On account of the assault, he was given a 30 years jail term.

Pervis Payne was tried in a Tennessee court for murdering Christopher and Lacie, her two-year-old daughter. Payne brought four witnesses who testified his good conduct. The prosecution, on the other hand, had Christopher’s mother testify how the mother’s death of the boy had affected Nicholas. When making his closing remarks, the prosecutor referred to the death of Nicholas’ mother in his request for a death sentence.

Separate Opinion

The decision was reached with six votes for Tennessee and three votes against him. This was under Amendment eight stating that the punishment was cruel and unusual. Chief Justice Rehnquist William conveyed the opinion.

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Because of no limits set on the related justifying evidence brought about by a capital defendant, it was presumed by the court that the prosecution should be given a chance to give similar evidence to counter.


The important information that gave light on the opinions of the jury was the evidence pointing to Payne and the damage caused to the family of the victim especially to Nicholas.


In the past, the US criminal justice system used to concentrate on the criminal by inquiring about the person who broke the law, and the punishment that he should get. Many times, victims were ignored. Payne v. Tennessee’s case brought about the victim’s rights movement, which changed the situations where victims were ignored. Most states today give the juries a chance to ascertain a crime’s punishment, by employing the use of evidence on how the crime affected the victim and his family.

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