Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In the public interest: Intellectual disability, the Supreme Court, and the death penalty.

American Psychologist - Vol 68 (5)
This article deals with a case that recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court. The issues involved whether attorneys provided effective assistance to a person convicted of murder when no mitigating evidence was presented (either strategically or by neglect) to the jury concerning the intellectual disabilities of their client during the death penalty phase of the trial. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the death penalty for intellectually disabled individuals (mentally retarded) constituted cruel and unusual punishment. In this case the attorneys made a strategic decision not to present possibly mitigating evidence for the death penalty phase. The Supreme Court considered whether the appeals court abdicated its judicial review responsibilities. The results of psychological evaluations are presented, and the decisions of the Supreme Court are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
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Kevin McGrew, PhD
Educational Psychologist