484 U.S. 1079 (1988)

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U.S. Supreme Court

POST v. OHIO , 484 U.S. 1079 (1988)

484 U.S. 1079

Ronald Ray POST
No. 87-6127

Supreme Court of the United States

February 22, 1988

Rehearing Denied April 18, 1988.

See 485 U.S. 1016.

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.


Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231-241, 2950, 2973 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting), I would vacate the judgment of the Ohio Supreme Court insofar as it left undisturbed the sentence of death imposed in this case.

Page 484 U.S. 1079 , 1080


Even if I did not hold this view, I would vacate petitioner's sentence because it was imposed under the same circumstances this Court recently condemned in Booth v. Maryland, 482 U.S. 496 (1987). In Booth, the Court invalidated a Maryland statute that required the sentencer in a capital case to consider information contained in a "victim impact statement." The statement was prepared by the Maryland State Division of Parole and Probation, and it described the emotional impact of the crime on the victim's family members as well as their opinions of the offense, the offender, and the appropriate punishment. This Court held that such information is irrelevant to a capital sentencing decision and that its admission creates a constitutionally impermissible risk that the jury will impose the death penalty in an arbitrary manner. We concluded that the introduction of such evidence is inconsistent with the reasoned decisionmaking required in capital cases.

In the instant case, petitioner Ronald Ray Post entered a plea of no contest to charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery arising out of the killing of a motel desk clerk during an armed robbery of the motel. A three-judge panel convicted petitioner on all counts and convened a sentencing hearing. At the sentencing hearing, the panel received a presentence report prepared by the county department of probation that contained a victim impact statement. In addition, the victim's son testified orally to the panel regarding the effect of the murder on the victim's family and urged the panel to return a sentence of death. The panel found one aggravating circumstance-that the murder was committed during the course of an armed robbery-and no mitigating circumstances; it therefore sentenced petitioner to death.

The Ohio Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's sentence on appeal, rejecting petitioner's argument that his sentence must be vacated because it was imposed in violation of Booth v. Maryland, supra. 32 Ohio St.3d 380, 513 N.E.2d 754 (1987). The court recognized that the admission of the written victim impact statement and the oral testimony of the victim's son was error under both Ohio law and the federal constitutional analysis of Booth. But the court concluded that the error was not prejudicial [484 U.S. 1079 , 1081]

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