"Executing the Mentally Retarded: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," is Andrew Cohen's latest post at the Alantic.
The story of Warren Lee Hill, which is poised to reach its apex next week, is really the story of how vast the gulf is sometimes between the lofty pronouncements of the United States Supreme Court and the manner in which lesser functionaries of law and justice implement the letter and the spirit of those pronouncements. For in the case of Warren Lee Hill, we see nothing less than the state-sanctioned defiance of a recent Supreme Court mandate: Thou shalt not execute the mentally retarded.
Hill is a capital inmate in Georgia, long ago convicted of murder, who is scheduled to be executed next Tuesday. This is happening, at least for now, because Georgia officials have come up with a way to satisfy themselves that Hill is not mentally retarded. They have accomplished this psychological miracle by enforcing a restrictive state law which makes it virtually impossible for any capital defendant to ever prove his or her mental retardation. And they say they are entitled to apply this law because the Supreme Court said so.
Georgia is pressing ahead with the execution even though Hill's lawyers have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that, with an IQ of 70, he has "significantly subaverage intellectual functioning."
The Guardian posts, "Georgia will violate both justice and the constitution if it executes Warren Hill," by Christof Heyns.
Just over a year ago, the world learned that Georgia was about to execute Troy Davis, someone about whose guilt there were serious questions. Many expressed their misgivings, but he was, nevertheless, executed. It has now become clear that Georgia has finally cleared the last legal hurdles and is intent on executing Warren Hill, whose IQ is within the range of what is considered to constitute intellectual disability, or "mental retardation" (in US parlance). A state court has twice found that Hill meets the criteria for mental retardation by a preponderance of the evidence.
"Warren Hill Faces Execution In Georgia Again," is Brian Evans' post at AIUSA.
Last summer, Richard Handspike, speaking for the victim’s family, wrote in a letter to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles: “I and my family feel strongly that persons with any kind of significant mental disabilities should not be put to death.”
The Georgia Board, however, rejected calls for clemency.
So the Supreme Court needs to step in. Prohibiting execution of the “mentally retarded” should mean just that. And with Warren Hill’s case the Supreme Court can make that clear.
Earlier coverage of Warren Hill's case begins at the link.