Source: (2012) Chapman Law Review. 16(2):475-500.

Part I of this Comment revisits Booth and South Carolina v. Gathers,12 the Supreme Court decisions overruled by Payne, and draws particular attention to the conflicting philosophies among the Justices over the course of the three decisions. It focuses on how different Justices frame the issues surrounding victim impact testimony and the influence of victim impact testimony on juries. Part I also briefly looks at the rise of victims' rights as a socio-political movement, a movement which has often caused intense discord between state legislatures and courts in the sentencing phases of capital cases." This tension seemingly culminated with the Supreme Court twice ruling against the movement, only to overtum both decisions shortly thereafter in what is now the law of the land." Part II addresses the fallout from the Supreme Court's about-face in Payne by surveying the empirical research conducted in the wake of the Payne decision and examining the competing philosophical concerns in relation to the statistical findings. This Part also surveys how states that allow for the death penalty have reacted to Payne, and dwells primarily on the effects of victim impact statements ("VIS") on the rates of death sentences handed down in capital cases. (excerpt)