Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 9 years ago

please explain interesting victim impact testmoney!!?

please go over victim impact testimony and how it could violate the rights of the accused?


especially on capital murder cases! thanks! :)

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I had to snicker at this question! Many could write a book on it, but I'll just try to give you some good talking points for your "discussion."

    Victim impact testimony are statements usually made to the judge and or jury during various phases of a criminal trial. The statements are usually made orally, but can be made through written testimony or videotaped as well. In criminal law, we really didn't see this testimony come about until the late 1970s, even then, it was not always permitted during penalty/sentencing phases of the trial. Some states allow this testimony after sentencing has already taken place. Check out this caselaw: Payne v. Tennessee 1991 (US Supreme Court)

    For years now attorney's in various walks of law have debated that this testimony violates the guilty party's 8th amendment. This amendment deals with excessive fines, sentences, etc. as well as cruel and unusual punishment. The common argument is that the testimony will influence the judge or jury prior to sentencing.

    Now, as far as capital murder cases. Victim impact testimony is under the microscope during the penalty phase. The testimony can not suggest or even hint to what they feel the appropriate punishment should be. If they do, defense would in most cases claim it to be prejudicial and inflammatory. I will list this case law below, but in an interesting case in California, the victim's family was allowed to show a 21 minute video to the jury, in a capital case. The video was complete with narration, music, etc. It strayed (in my opinion) from traditional impact testimony. The general guide for the content of impact testimony is "How the loss of the victim, impacted family members or friends." There is SOME latitude, but not much.

    Here is some of the cases you should be concerned with:

    Payne v. Tennessee 1991

    People v. Kelly (2007)

    Kelly v. California (2008)

    I tired to keep it short but substantive. Hope this helps!

    Source(s): Professional experience. Precedent stated in message content.
  • theron
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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