"On Death Row With Low I.Q., and New Hope for a Reprieve," is by Lizette Alvarez and John Schwartz for the New York Times.
When the Supreme Court ruled this week that states can no longer rely on a fixed I.Q. score cutoff to decide intellectual competency, it increased the likelihood that Mr. Herring and other death row inmates like him will have a chance to avoid execution. Fewer defendants are also less likely to wind up on death row in the future because their claims of intellectual disabilities will be not be as readily discounted by the courts.
The ruling affects roughly 30 death row inmates. The number is low because the vast majority of states follow modern standards of determining intellectual disabilities, going beyond using a single number to be considered disabled. But in those states that will be affected, death row inmates with low, but not low enough, I.Q. scores that have been previously rejected or never put forward can now seek to have their sentences reconsidered.
After the ruling, these states must consider a broader range of I.Q. scores that take into account error rates, along with real-life examples of how a defendant functioned in society, including a person’s grades, his ability to dress and groom himself, do chores, follow instructions, hold certain kinds of jobs, make change, live independently. By law, the disability needed to have been evident before the age of 18.
“It means that these cases will be more fairly and adequately assessed for this condition,” said Peter Mills, the chairman of the death penalty steering committee of the Florida Public Defenders Association.
"IQ Death Penalty Case Could Last Years," is by Dan Dewitt of the Tampa Bay Times, via the Lakeland Ledger.
With last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Hall's challenge of Florida's standard for executing intellectually disabled residents, one thing is all but certain:
If Hall, 68, eventually is put to death, it will require another hearing, a round of appeals and, likely, several more years.
"The bottom line is, he can't be executed until we do it over again," said Ric Ridgway, chief assistant state attorney for Florida's 5th Judicial Circuit.
This is only one of two challenges facing Florida after last week's decision. The other is creating statewide rules to replace the state's rigid definition of intellectual disability as an IQ of 70 or below.
Both the state Attorney General's Office and the Florida Supreme Court said it is too early to say how they will proceed with Hall's case. But typically, legal experts said, the state high court refers such matters back to the circuit court.
Earlier coverage of Hall v. Florida begins at the link.