By William Fisher
In 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that executions of mentally retarded criminals are "cruel and unusual punishment," violating the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Some time in the very near future -- as soon as a new execution date is established -- Texas will execute Warren Hill, who is mentally retarded with an IQ OF 70.
How come? Texas find a back door somewhere?
Well, yes and no.
On April 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied Warren Hill's appeal to halt his execution based on new evidence of his intellectual infirmity.
The Court ruled that Hill's claim of intellectual
On April 22, a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied Warren Hill's appeal to halt his execution based on new evidence of his intellectual disability.
The Court ruled that Hill's claim of intellectual disability (mental retardation) was presented in an earlier petition and cannot be presented again, despite the new evidence.
Wha? "Presented in an earlier petition and cannot be presented again?" Did we hear correctly?
Yes, we did. And so did Appeals Judge Rosemary Barkett. In her dissenting opinion, she said, "There is no question that Georgia will be executing a mentally retarded man because all seven
She also stated, "The idea that courts are not permitted to acknowledge that a mistake has been made which would bar an execution is quite incredible for a country that not only prides itself on having the quintessential system of justice but attempts to export it to the world as a model of fairness....
[The federal habeas statute] should not be construed to require the unconstitutional execution of a mentally retarded
The state argues that the claims for habeas relief should be barred because Georgia law requires that any claims not made in the initial petition should be barred from review, and this is Hill's third such request.
So Hill will be put to death because a court chose a gaggle of legal technicalities while ignoring the larger issues.
But, in a dissenting opinion, Judge Rosemary Barkett said, "There is no question that Georgia will be executing a mentally retarded man because all seven mental health experts who have ever evaluated Hill, both the state's and Hill's, now unanimously agree that he is mentally retarded."
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