We have written in the past about the case of Texas death row inmate Bobby Moore who claimed he should not be executed due to mental incapacity.
In the past, Texas relied on outdated medical standards to gauge if defendants were intellectually disabled and thus ineligible to be executed. The case of Moore changes that.
In March, in a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that current medical standards must be considered when a court determines whether a defendant facing a possible death penalty is intellectually disabled and, therefore, barred from execution under the Eighth Amendment.
An article in The Intercept described the decision as a blow to the State of Texas. The Lone Star State has based its determinations on “outdated science” as well as subjected standards, the article claimed.
The court considered the case of Moore, who was sentenced to death in 1980. He will be given another chance to argue in court that he is ineligible for the death penalty on the grounds of intellectual disability.
Moore’s lawyers say his cognitive disabilities are severe enough to ensure an execution would violate the Eighth Amendment.
Moore was just 20 when he was part of a botched robbery in 1980 at a Houston store. The incident ended with the shooting death of a 70-year-old store clerk. Moore was sentenced to death for his role in the killing.
The 2002 U.S. Supreme Court case of Atkins v Virginia found mentally retarded people did not display the same level of moral culpability that characterizes serious adult criminal conduct and should not be put to death. However, it allowed the states to set their own standards.
Texas failed to adopt the latest standards for determining intellectual disability and used different criteria.
Texas lawmakers also omitted to pass a statute to codify the Atkins decision and to highlight the steps needed for courts to determine disability.
In the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said allowing a state to formulate its own definition of impairment leads to inconsistent results.
While the State of Texas pointed to some IQ tests recorded by Moore in school in the lower 70s, his defense team said he could not tell the time by the age of 13 or understand the days of the week and the months of the year.
If you have been charged with a crime and have a mental incapacity, don’t expect the criminal justice system to give you much help. It’s vital to hire a seasoned criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights. Call the Medlin Law Firm today.