February 11, 2005

The California Supreme Court on IQ and the death penalty.

I've written before about the question whether the Supreme Court's Atkins case, barring the death penalty for the mentally retarded, meant for IQ tests to be determinative. Yesterday, the California Supreme Court rejected the IQ line-drawing sought by the prosecution (who suggested 70 as the cut-off point). The case involved a man who has scored from 71 to 86 on various tests. How bizarre it would be to execute him because he scored 71, when it would violate his constitutional rights if he'd only scored 70! The court decided he was entitled to a hearing, based on the fact that a qualified expert found him to be mentally retarded. At the hearing, the IQ scores are simply part of the whole mass of evidence that can be considered in reaching a factual conclusion.

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