Weems v. United States (1910)
• Weems is skimming off the top a little of money
• Took place in the Philippines
• 15 years in prison with hard labor, bread and water diet, and a ball tied to his ankles, then
deprived of citizenship if he makes it through his punishment.
• He appeals for “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”
• Precedent: Wilkerson v. Utah: Utah offered (1852) choices to people as to how they
would be killed. Proportionality: Caesar Beccaraia: argument against capital punishment
in the 18 century. Introduced the notion of Proportionality: sentence should accord with
the severity of the crime. Imprisonment is more proportional and it could lead to
rehabilitation of the convict. JohnAdams cited Beccaraia in the Boston Massacre trials.
• Precedent: Kemmler: cruel punishments when they include “torture or a lingering death,
something inhumane or barbaric” electricity is ok.
• Three simple words: “Time Works Changes”: execution may not have been thought of as
cruel in the 18 century but we now see that as cruel. Open up the possibility of
interpretation of the cruel and unusual punishment for each court to come. “Not only can
be on what has been but on what may be”:
Francis v. Resweber (1947)
• Andrew Thomas (white man): body is found shot and his wallet taken. • Francis is a part time employee of Thomas and he is missing, found in possessi