Lackey Claim Law and Legal Definition

Lackey claim refers to a prisoner’s legal claim asserting that imprisonment on death row for a prolonged period is cruel and unusual punishment. Lackey claim was developed from the case, Lackey v. Texas, 520 U.S. 1183 (U.S. 1997). A Lackey claim is not a new concept and thus it does not meet the novelty exception to the abuse-of-the-writ doctrine.

It is not necessary that a Lackey claim becomes ripe only after a certain number of years or as the final hour of execution nears. It can be asserted when there is steady and predictable passage of time because the passage of time strengthens any Lackey claim. However, a successful Lackey claim has the effect of rendering a particular death sentence as invalid.

The following is an example of a case law defining Lackey claim:

Lackey claim refers to a constitutional challenge against carrying out of a death sentence on the grounds that years on death row make the ultimate punishment cruel and unusual. [Johnson v. Bredesen, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111510 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 30, 2009)].