Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Research Byte: A NIT-picking analysis: Abstractness dependence of subtests correlated to their Flynn effect magnitudes via BrowZine

A NIT-picking analysis: Abstractness dependence of subtests correlated to their Flynn effect magnitudes
Armstrong, Elijah L.; te Nijenhuis, Jan; Woodley of Menie, Michael A.; Fernandes, Heitor B.F.; Must, Olev; Must, Aasa
Intelligence, Vol. 57 – 2016: 1 - 6


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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ronell Wilson's Atkines ID/MR death penalty decision to be appealed

Andrew Keshner, New York Law Journal, March 23, 2016

The Eastern District U.S. Attorney's Office will appeal a judge's decision to vacate a death sentence for a man convicted of murdering two police officers.

Prosecutors filed notice Tuesday saying they would challenge the decision to undo Ronell Wilson's death sentence. Eastern District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said Wilson was ineligible for capital punishment because he was intellectually disabled in the eyes of the law (NYLJ, March 16).
Garaufis had ruled in February 2013 that Wilson was not intellectually disabled and, therefore, eligible for capital punishment. Later that year, a jury said Wilson deserved death for the 2003 killings of undercover detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin. Wilson appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sent the case back to Garaufis to review Wilson's mental capacity in light of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court case, Hall v. Florida, 134 S. Ct. 1986.

On March 15, Garaufis said he would impose life imprisonment without the possibility of parole based on a "careful interpretation of evolving Supreme Court precedent and a sober review of the evidence." Wilson was convicted of the crimes in 2006; the same jury voted for execution. In 2010, the circuit kept the jury's guilt determination intact, but ordered retrial on the penalty phase. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Busa filed the notice of appeal in U.S. v.
Wilson. 04-cr-1016.

Prior posts at this blog regarding this Atkins case can be found here (access to court decisions) and here

Sunday, March 20, 2016

NY killer off death row as definition of disabled gets tweak

Some press coverage re Ronell Wilson decision.

NY killer off death row as definition of disabled gets tweak

From News, a Flipboard magazine by Flipboard Newsdesk

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors say Ronell Wilson is a calculating murderer. Since his imprisonment for killing two New York City police…

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Atkins MR/ID Court Decision: Ronell Wilson v US (NY; 2014) Atkins decision overturned (Wilson v US/NY, 2016)

Yesterday the prior decision (Wilson v US/NY, 2014) to not excuse Ronell Wilson as per Atkins, was overturned.  The new 2016 decision can be found here.  Wilson is currently the only individual on death row in NY as per the federal death penalty (click here for prior post).  This has been a very high profile death penalty case.

As per my policy, being one of the "six experts" mentioned in the decision as having provided an expert declaration, I will not comment on any aspects of the court decision.

Atkins ID/MR Court Decisions: Nixon v Florida update--2016 initial brief

A initial brief was recently filed with the Florida Supreme Court in the Atkins appeal of Nixon (Nixon v Florida).  A prior 2009 court decision can be found here

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Research Byte: Comparison of norms from three Spanish-language and one English-language WAIS-III tests (select subtests)

Norm Comparisons of the Spanish-Language and English-Language WAIS-III: Implications for Clinical Assessment and Test Adaptation.  Funes, Cynthia M.; Hernandez Rodriguez, Juventino; Lopez, Steven Regeser.  Psychological Assessment, Mar 7 , 2016, No Pagination Specified. http://dx.doi.org.ezp1.lib.umn.edu/10.1037/pas0000302


  1. This study provides a systematic comparison of the norms of 3 Spanish-language Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales (WAIS–III) batteries from Mexico, Spain, and Puerto Rico, and the U.S. English-language WAIS–III battery. Specifically, we examined the performance of the 4 normative samples on 2 identical subtests (Digit Span and Digit Symbol-Coding) and 1 nearly identical subtest (Block Design). We found that across most age groups the means associated with the Spanish-language versions of the 3 subtests were lower than the means of the U.S. English-language version. In addition, we found that for most age ranges the Mexican subsamples scored lower than the Spanish subsamples. Lower educational levels of Mexicans and Spaniards compared to U.S. residents are consistent with the general pattern of findings. These results suggest that because of the different norms, applying any of the 3 Spanish-language versions of the WAIS–III generally risks underestimating deficits, and that applying the English-language WAIS–III norms risks overestimating deficits of Spanish-speaking adults. There were a few exceptions to these general patterns. For example, the Mexican subsample ages 70 years and above performed significantly better on the Digit Symbol and Block Design than did the U.S. and Spanish subsamples. Implications for the clinical assessment of U.S. Spanish-speaking Latinos and test adaptation are discussed with an eye toward improving the clinical care for this community. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Death Penalty and Intellectual Disability

The Death Penalty and Intellectual Disability

This book is the authoritative resource on the application of diagnostic information concerning intellectual disability (ID) in death penalty cases. In a…

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Research Byte: Was Intelligence necessary? via BrowZine

Thoughtful reflections on the journal Intelligence by its founder, Doug Detterman.

Was Intelligence necessary?
Detterman, Douglas K.
Intelligence, Vol. 55 – 2016: v - viii


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Assessing Adaptive Functioning in Death Penalty Cases after Hall and DSM-5

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 44:1:96-105 (March 2016)

Assessing Adaptive Functioning in Death Penalty Cases after Hall and DSM-5

  1. Thomas J. Guilmette, PhD

+Author Affiliations

  1. Dr. Hagan is in independent practice and is Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA; Dr. Drogin is Lecturer on Psychiatry (Part-Time), Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, serving in the Program in Psychiatry and the Law, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA; Dr. Guilmette is Professor of Psychology, Providence College, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI.
  1. Address correspondence to: Leigh D. Hagan, PhD, P.O. Box 350, Chesterfield, VA 23832. E-mail: lhagan@leighhagan.com.


DSM-5 and Hall v. Florida (2014) have dramatically refocused attention on the assessment of adaptive functioning in death penalty cases. In this article, we address strategies for assessing the adaptive functioning of defendants who seek exemption from capital punishment pursuant to Atkins v. Virginia (2002). In particular, we assert that evaluations of adaptive functioning should address assets as well as deficits; seek to identify credible and reliable evidence concerning the developmental period and across the lifespan; distinguish incapacity from the mere absence of adaptive behavior; adhere faithfully to test manual instructions for using standardized measures of adaptive functioning; and account for potential bias on the part of informants. We conclude with brief caveats regarding the standard error of measurement (SEM) in light of Hall, with reference to examples of ordinary life activities that directly illuminate adaptive functioning relevant to capital cases.