Monday, October 25, 2010

Court Decision: Smith v TN (2010)

Still "cleanin' out my in box."

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals rendered a very interesting (perplexing?) ruling recently. I only had time for a quick skim. With that caveat, the decision for Leonard Smith is available here. I will add it to the ICDP Court Decisions blog roll in the next day or so. Thanks again to the ever diligent Kevin Foley for sending this one my way.

Of interest is how the post conviction relief court dealt with a large number of IQ scores from ages 14 thru adulthood---tests that varied from comprehensive intelligence batteries to tests that were quick and limited screening instruments. Present in the document are the following scores. Those based on a comprehensive intellectual battery are designated by asterisks

1975 WISC 80*
1975 Ammons Quick Test 70
1976 Ammons Quick Test 84
1980 Un-named (prison) 88
1984 PPVT 86
1989 WAIS-R 75*
2001 WAIS-III 77*
2002 WAIS- III 65*

One troubling statement is on page 51:

Specifically, the post-conviction court rejected the IQ scores achieved by [Smith] during his adult years and, apparently referencing the performance IQ achieved in 1975 when he was fourteen years of age, concluded that ‘testing preformed before the ate of eighteen reflects a functional I.Q. of 85.’”

Although there are individual cases were a component or sub-score index score may be the best estimate of a person's general level of intellectual functioning, in general, the overall "full scale" IQ should always be given first priority consideration in Atkins cases. I am baffled that given four different Wechsler Full Scale IQ scores a decision was made to "cherry pick" the Performance Scale IQ of 85 from the WISC administered when Smith was a teenager. How can all the adult scores simply be dismissd without an explanation?

In addition, the appeals court rejected the concepts of the standard error of measurement (SEM) and norm obsolescence (aka, the Flynn Effect) and stuck with the states supreme court and acknowledged, that by taking this approach, persons with MR/ID will be executed in Tennessee. Hmmmm? Atkins claim denied.

In the end, though, Smith got some relief based on his trial attorneys failure to get a judge recused.

Strange twists and turns.

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