Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Lockett v. Ohio (1978)

  • Robert L. HeilbronnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1003


The US Supreme Court ruled in Lockett v. Ohio (1978) that in the case of a defendant facing the death penalty, one is allowed to present any aspect of character or record or any circumstance related to the offense that could create a basis for a lesser sentence than the death penalty. The 8th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution required, in all but the rarest capital cases, that the triers of fact be allowed to consider a number of mitigating factors, both statutory and nonstatutory, before imposing the death penalty. The Court held that the Ohio statute did not permit the type of individualized consideration of mitigating factors required by the Constitution. Despite this decision in favor of presenting mitigating factors, certain arguments have not been allowed to be presented by the defendant. Specifically, issues related to the morality of the death penalty and issues related to the execution process have not been allowed in any court.

Historical Background


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References and Readings

  1. Cunningham, M. D., & Goldstein, A. M. (2003). Sentencing determinations in death penalty cases. In A. Goldstein (Ed.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 11). Forensic psychology. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Denney, R. L. (2005). Criminal responsibility and other criminal forensic issues. In G. Larrabee (Ed.), Forensic neuropsychology: A scientific approach. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Heilbronner, R. L., & Waller, D. (2008). Neuropsychological consultation in the sentencing phase of capital Cases. In R. Denney & J. Sullivan (Eds.), Clinical neuropsychology in the criminal forensic setting. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586 (1978).Google Scholar
  5. Reynolds, C., Price, J. R., & Niland, J. (2003). Applications of neuropsychology in capital felony (death penalty) defense. Journal of Forensic Neuropsychology, 3, 89–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chicago Neuropsychology GroupChicagoUSA