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U.S. SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS TEXAS' ‘OUTLIER’ STANDARD FOR DETERMINING INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY IN CAPITAL CASES

March 28, 2017:

In the case of Bobby Moore (Moore v. Texas, 15-797) the Court has struck down Texas' standard for evaluating intellectual disability in death penalty cases, calling the state's approach an "outlier" that, "by design and in operation, ... creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed." The Court vacated the judgment of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), which had applied an unscientific set of lay stereotypes known as the “Briseño factors” (named after the Texas court decision that announced them) to overturn a trial court determination that Texas death-row prisoner Bobby Moore was intellectually disabled. Moore, 57, Black, was convicted of fatally shooting James McCarble during a 1980 grocery store robbery. The Court described these seven factors—including such things as whether lay people who knew the defendant thought he was intellectually disabled and whether he could hide facts or lie effectively—as an unscientific "invention" of the CCA that was "untied to any acknowledged source" and that lacked support from "any authority, medical or judicial." The Supreme Court ruled in 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, that the execution of individuals with intellectual disability was unconstitutional, but it left states with some discretion in determining who was intellectually disabled. However, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the five-justice majority, reiterated, "States’ discretion ... is not unfettered.” "A court’s intellectual disability determination," she wrote must be “informed by the medical community’s diagnostic framework." The Moore decision is the second time in recent years that the Court has addressed state deviations from clinical definitions of intellectual disability, which focus on "three core elements: (1) intellectual-functioning deficits, (2) adaptive deficits, and (3) the onset of these deficits while still a minor." The Court struck down Florida's use of a strict IQ cut off in the 2014 case Hall v. Florida, noting that Florida's standard, "disregards established medical practice." The Hall decision addressed the first element, intellectual functioning, while Moore addressed aspects of both the first and second, adaptive deficits. Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the portion of the Court's opinion that held that Texas had inappropriately rejected Moore's evidence of the first prong, deficits in intellectual functioning. But they joined the Court in rejecting Texas' use of the Briseño factors, calling it “an unacceptable method of enforcing the guarantee of Atkins.” The Court said that, "in concluding that Moore did not suffer significant adaptive deficits, the CCA overemphasized Moore’s perceived adaptive strengths," but "the medical community focuses the adaptive-functioning inquiry on adaptive deficits." The Court ruled that Texas also had improperly required Moore to show that his deficits in functioning were unrelated to his traumatic upbringing and personality disorder. Traumatic exposures, the Court wrote, "count in the medical community as 'risk factors' for intellectual disability." Further, the Court said, persons with intellectual disability may have other co-existing mental impairments and the existence of other mental-health issues are “not evidence that a person does not also have intellectual disability.”

(Source: BuzzFeed News, USA Today, Dallas Morning News, 28/03/2017)

PAKISTAN: ANOTHER TERRORIST HANGED IN KOHAT JAIL
SAUDI ARABIA EXECUTES TWO DRUG DEALERS INCLUDING PAKISTANI NATIONAL
VIETNAM: 9 MEN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
MALAYSIA: BROTHERS EXECUTED AT KAJANG PRISON
SUDAN: PRESIDENT OMAR AL-BASHIR PARDONS 259 REBELS
PAKISTAN: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING FATHER
MORE OHIO DEATH ROW PRISONERS EXONERATED OR REMOVED THAN EXECUTED
SUDAN: DARFUR CRIMES COURT SENTENCES TWO TO DEATH BY HANGING IN EL-GENEINA
INDONESIA: DEATH PENALTY MAINTAINED AMID CRITICISM
NIGERIA: THREE TO DIE BY HANGING FOR ROBBERY
BAHRAIN COURT GIVES JAIL, DEATH SENTENCES TO DISSIDENTS
PAKISTAN: SECRET MILITARY COURTS EXTENDED
INDIA: TWO GET CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN KIDNAP-CUM-MURDER CASE
BANGLADESH: 5 SENTENCED TO DEATH IN JOURNO AFTAB MURDER
TEXAS (USA): MURDER VICTIMS' PARENTS SEEK DEATH SENTENCE COMMUTATION FOR PAUL STOREY
IRAQ: BAGHDAD COURT SENTENCES MAN TO DEATH OVER LINKS TO ISIS HACKING
YEMEN: PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HOUTHI COURT
EGYPT: HOSNI MUBARAK FREED, SIX YEARS AFTER OVERTHROW
IRAN: YOUNG MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR INSULTING THE PROPHET
JORDAN: WOMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING HUSBAND
UAE COURT PARDONS 10 PUNJABIS ON DEATH ROW
GAMBIA: JUSTICE MINISTER WANTS DEATH PENALTY ABOLISHED
BANGLADESH: 3 AWARDED DEATH PENALTY IN COMILLA FOR KILLING BUSINESSMAN
INDIA: LAW COMMISSION RECOMMENDS ABOLITION OF DEATH PENALTY, EXCEPT IN TERROR CASES
JAPAN: MAN SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING 5 PEOPLE IN HYOGO PREFECTURE
INDIA: DEATH SENTENCE FOR MAN CONVICTED OF KILLING KERALA FAMILY
IRAN: TWO PRISONERS HANGED ON DRUG CHARGES
GAZA: HAMAS SENTENCES 2 DRUG DEALERS TO DEATH
BANGLADESH: SC UPHOLDS DEATH PENALTY OF MUFTI HANNAN
USA: GUANTANAMO JUDGE SETTING USS COLE BOMBING TRIAL FOR 2018

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IRAN. HANDS OFF CAIN, REDUCTION OF DRUG EXECUTIONS BUT NUMBERS REMAIN WORRISOME
  HUMAN RIGHTS: DEMONSTRATION OF THE RADICAL PARTY BEFORE IRANIAN EMBASSY 14 FEBRUARY  
  BELARUS EXECUTES TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS  
  MALAYSIA: GOVT HALTS EXECUTION OF 1,200 DEATH ROW INMATES  
  JAPAN HANGS CULT LEADER SHOKO ASAHARA, 6 OTHERS FOR 1995 TOKYO SUBWAY SARIN ATTACK  
  SOMALIA - DEATH PENALTY AND TERRORISM  
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