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I wrote recently about the scheduled execution of Warren Hill, a mentally retarded Georgia man. Mr. Hill's execution is now slated for Monday, July 23, one week after the previously scheduled date.

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that execution of prisoners suffering from mental retardation violated the Eighth Amendment. As Mr. Hill's case shows, reality does not always conform to this ideal. Georgia happens to be the only state that requires proof of mental retardation beyond a reasonable doubt, a uniquely high burden of proof for death row prisoners.

The State Supreme Court, however, ruled that Mr. Hill had to prove his mental retardation beyond a reasonable doubt. The dissent rightly argued that applying the tougher standard is unconstitutional because it imposes too high a risk that a court’s conclusion will be wrong. The dissent relied on the United States Supreme Court holding that it is unconstitutional to require a defendant to prove that he is incompetent to stand trial by any standard higher than a preponderance of the evidence.
Currently, Mr. Hill has a motion for a stay of execution pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a motion for rehearing of the Court's denial of Mr. Hill's petition for certiorari. His attorneys have also filed an appeal for a stay of execution with the Georgia Supreme Court.

Since my last diary, the issue of Mr. Hill's mental retardation has been litigated again, and a Butts County judge has ruled:

A Butts County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that Hill has proven an IQ of 70 beyond a reasonable doubt and meets the overall criteria for being mentally disabled by a preponderance of the evidence.

Georgia requires death row inmates to prove beyond a reasonable doubt they are mentally disabled to avoid execution. The court said Hill failed to do that.

Mr. Hill's IQ of 70 has been conceded beyond a reasonable doubt; he meets the criteria for mental retardation by a preponderance of the evidence. Only Georgia's high burden of proof keeps Mr. Hill slated for execution - in spite of the Supreme Court's ruling ten years ago.

Originally posted to Arjun Jaikumar on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 10:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abolish the Death Penalty.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    Contributing editor at Daily Kos and Daily Kos Elections, member of three-time NN pub quiz champion Sea Org.

    by Arjun Jaikumar on Sun Jul 22, 2012 at 10:44:58 PM PDT

  •  I signed the petition to have the execution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One Pissed Off Liberal, MKSinSA

    stayed, posted it to FB and had several people respond, called those I knew in Georgia to get some in-state support for a reprieve, but it seems Georgia is set on executing this mentally-challenged prisoner.

    As the victim of a couple of violent crimes when I lived in NYC, I understand the anger towards perpetrators. But institutional violence, state-sponsored murder, should not be an option in a civilized society, as ours purports to be.

    Until our culture of violence changes, which saw another grim outbreak in Aurora, we remain uncivilized at our core. Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization, replied, "Why I think that would be a marvelous idea."

    I couldn't agree with him more. The state-sponsored murder of this mentally-challenged individual is barbaric and inhumane. By association, Americans are diminished by this prospect.

    Americans are more likely to be killed by their furniture than terrorists. Since 9/11, 238 Americans have been killed by terrorists. 293 Americans have been killed by furniture falling on them. Atlantic Magazine

    by 4Freedom on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 04:45:24 AM PDT

  •  70 IQ doesn't seem that low (0+ / 0-)

    Seems like at 70 you know right from wrong. Anyway I am against  capitol punishment in general but why couldn't someone with a higher IQ answer the questions wrong knowing they would do poorly.
    I am not a fan of having a Number determine someones fate.
    I would say get a panel of 3 psychiatrists to determine someone mental state and intelligence and not count on a single test.
    Anyway if Georgia is set on killing this guy not much you can do about it.

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