Skip to comments.Proof of mental retardation shifts to the accused, Now, death penalty defendants must convince
Posted on 10/26/2006 12:50:07 PM PDT by Coleus
Accused murderers claiming to be exempt from the death penalty because they are mentally retarded will have to convince a jury of it, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled yesterday in a 5-2 decision. The long-awaited decision overturned an August 2005 appellate ruling that made New Jersey the only state in the nation requiring prosecutors to disprove mental retardation in order for execution to be a punishment option.
The high court likened a mental retardation claim to an insanity defense, which a defendant must prove. "Every state considering the issue has determined that a defendant raising a claim of mental retardation bears the burden of proof on the claim," Chief Justice Deborah Poritz wrote. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002, known as the Atkins decision, outlawed the execution of mentally retarded defendants, but left it to the states to work out their own rules for determining who is exempt. Of the 38 states with the death penalty, 29 have established procedures, either by law or court ruling.
Georgia requires defendants to prove beyond a reasonable doubt -- the highest standard of proof -- they are mentally retarded, and five other states use the "clear and convincing" standard of proof. New Jersey joins the majority of states that only require defendants show it is more likely than not they are mentally retarded, to get relief from the death penalty.
In an opposing view, Justice Barry Albin, backed by Justice Virginia Long, said his colleagues were increasing "the likelihood of wrongly executing a mentally retarded person. "That is a level of error that our system of justice should not be willing to tolerate," said Albin, calling the ruling unconstitutional. Prosecutors praised the ruling while defense attorneys criticized it.
(Excerpt) Read more at nj.com ...
Gee, ya think?
"Proof of mental retardation shifts to the accused,..."
Huh? No, the burden of proof remains on those making the claims. If you claim to be afflicted with something, you have to prove it.
This is a slam dunk. If you're mentally retarded then you're not likely to be capable of mounting a well-crafted case in court to prove it.
Well, a solomonous decision would be to have a court sergeant/bailiff to borrow the judge's gavel, crack the perp's skull with it, and lift the hood. Then the court could find it out by direct inspection.
Could proving to a jury you are retarded be used as proof to show that you are not really retarded?
"If you're mentally retarded then you're not likely to be capable of mounting a well-crafted case in court to prove it."
It's also doubtful that you made it to adulthood without your condition being discovered. If a person manages to make to to 30 without ever being diagnosed as having some mental defiency, odds are that they don't have one.
I'm sure all but the most severely retarded people know it's bad to kill another person. And if they are that severely retarded, they would most likely have been found incompetent to stand trial so they would not be on death row anyway.
It is the testing and the scores that get scrutiny. You have to hit the numbers right on the mark. If you don't, your lawyer can find experts who will interpret your test results and try to explain them to a layman.
I know of a case in GA where a retarded man is being charged with solicitation in a sting operation. Problem is, he probably didn't know what solicitation actually meant, not to mention it is highly probable that while the prosecutor is trying to read intent into his actions, there really was none. His doctor is trying to explain to the court that this man didn't actually have a mature understanding of intimate human relationships.
All in all, it is a mess. I've no idea how the court will rule. But the doctor has told me that the decision will probably come down to a hair's width, when determining actual guilt.
"I'm sorry but that just doesn't make sense."
I think it does. If it is the defense's claim that the defendant is retarded, the defense should have to back their claim with some evidence. It also seems it would be in the best interest of the defense to do so. The prosecution should be under no burden to prove that every defendant that comes to court isn't retarded.
"That's a determination for the jury to make, not the black robes."
Exactly. First sentence in the article.
LOL. Amazing what reading the article does ............ LOL.
"This is a slam dunk. If you're mentally retarded then you're not likely to be capable of mounting a well-crafted case in court to prove it."
Absolutely. The more retarded, the more difficult to prove it. Insane.
"they are mentally retarded"
Wow! No PC terminology? I thought that term was BANNED. No "Down's Syndrome"? No mentally "challenged"?