The former news director of Houston's KFPA, now based in New York, has just posted, "Texas Keeps Retarded Men on Death Row," at Huffington Post. It's an extended excerpt from her Texas Observer article, noted in the preceding post.
An excerpt from the Huffington Post:
The next psychologist to evaluate Plata was Texas prosecutors' favorite tester, George Denkowski of Fort Worth. Denkowski's career stretched back 30 years to when he directed a 15-bed group home for mildly retarded adolescent offenders in Houston, teaching them adaptive skills that would improve their behavior. He'd also been the chief psychologist at the Fort Worth State School, a 365-bed facility for people with all ranges of mental retardation. Since 1989 he'd been in private practice conducting psychological evaluations. Denkowski had also directed a national study of mentally retarded people in state prisons.
After the Atkins decision in 2002, Denkowski became the first choice for Texas prosecutors. He would ultimately testify in 29 cases--nearly two-thirds of such appeals in Texas to date. In one of the first cases he worked on, Denkowski found James Clark, a man accused of raping and killing two teenagers in Denton, mentally retarded. The state dismissed him after that finding and hired another expert who disagreed. Denkowski's opinion was presented by the defense to no avail, and Clark was executed.
In 29 cases, Denkowski has found defendants retarded only eight times. By 2006, when he tested Plata, Denkowski had garnered an "almost Dr. Death status" among defense lawyers, according to attorney Robert Morrow. Morrow represented Alfred DeWayne Brown during his 2004 trial for killing a clerk and a security guard at a Houston check-cashing store. Morrow said "Denkowski pretty much thought that if you had engaged in criminal behavior you were not retarded," Morrow says. Brown remains on Death Row.
The work was lucrative. Denkowski charged prosecutors hourly rates of $180 for evaluations, and $250 for court testimony. Most of the cases he worked on were in Harris County, which until 2009 pursued more death-penalty sentences than any other county in Texas. Between 2003 and 2009, Harris County paid him $303,084 for his services, according to the Harris County Auditor.