Saturday, January 2, 2010

The state of Florida strikes again: Brown v Fl (2007, 2009)

The state of Florida strikes again. Paul Brown's habeas corpus petition was recently denied. I have posted notification of the availability of copies of that decision, together with the original 2007 decision, at the Court Ruling sidebar of this blog.

A quick skim of the 2009 denial of relief reveals a number of familiar issues common to many Atkins cases -- bright line IQ score of 70, standard error of measurement (SEM), malingering, evidence of mental retardation prior to age 18, etc.

Although I've not completed an exhaustive and critical analysis of all documents, it continues to concern me that in this case, as in other Florida cases, the state appears to continue to ignore the concept of the standard error of measurement (SEM). Cheery v Florida( 2007) continues to rear its head in many of these decisions. It appears the state of Florida continues to rely on the Cherry court to establish an absolute IQ score of 70 or below...period. The state of Florida apparently does not understand, or does not want to accept, the concept of SEM.

The critical and important role of the SEM in intelligence testing, and Atkins cases in particular, has been discussed many times at this blog. We have also provided special technical reports to explain the concept of standard error of measurement. Click here to view all prior post dealing with the SEM.

It appears the court spent more time dealing with the issue of the credibility of the experts than more substantive diagnostic issues regarding mental retardation. This individual had an IQ score of 72 at age 10, and was placed in special education classrooms for those with intellectual disabilities. Although there appears to be some concerns regarding possible malingering (on later WAIS-III tests) and the status of the defendants adaptive behavior, I find it hard to believe that a child at the age of 10 would malinger to obtain an IQ score that would place them in special education classes for individuals with mental retardation. The score of 72 is clearly within the range for mental retardation eligibility (when one correctly recognizes the psychometric concept of SEM).  When coupled with placement in special education classroom prior to the age of 18, I am perplexed why this information was so easily dismissed....largely due to the courts ignorance of the concept of SEM.

I'm sure there's much more to this case than revealed in the final court documents. However, Florida's continued reliance on a bright line IQ score of 70 and the failure to recognize the scientific and professionally recognized concept of SEM, is troubling.

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