• Last updated on November 11, 2022

After an electric chair failed to kill a convicted murderer because of a mechanical failure, the Supreme Court decided that a second trip to the electric chair would not violate the Eighth Amendment’s proscription against cruel and unusual punishment.

Willy Francis, a fifteen-year-old African American,African Americans;death penalty[death penalty] was found guilty of murdering a white druggist and was sentenced to death by electrocution. After the electric chair malfunctioned and a two-minute jolt of electricity failed to kill Francis, his lawyers argued that a second electrocution would involve so much mental anguish that it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Speaking for a 5-4 majority, Justice Stanley F. Reed’sReed, Stanley F.;Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber[Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber] majority opinion rejected the argument and found that the unsuccessful attempt at execution was simply “an unforeseeable accident.” Reed noted that an execution would be unconstitutional only if it involved barbarous practices or unnecessary pain.Cruel and unusual punishment;Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber[Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber]

Carolene Products Co., United States v.

Cruel and unusual punishment

Eighth Amendment

Gregg v. Georgia

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