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June 13, 2011

Georgia Supreme Court upholds again placing high burden on capital defendants to prove retardation

As detailed in this new AP article, "Georgia's top court has upheld the strict standard that capital defendants must meet to prove they are mentally disabled to avoid an execution." Here is more:

The Georgia Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling on Monday rejected a challenge brought by Alphonso Stripling, who claimed the state cannot seek the death penalty against him for the 1988 killings of two because he is mentally disabled. The court also concluded that the burden of proof is on Stripling, not the state.

Georgia became the first state in the nation to ban executing mentally disabled inmates. But it also is the only state that requires defendants to prove they are mentally disabled beyond a reasonable doubt....

A federal appeals court is considering a similar challenge.

The full opinion from the Georgia Supreme Court is available here, and this paragraph from the solo dissent provide a brief national overview on this issue:

Of the thirty states that impose the death penalty, twenty-two have adopted a preponderance of the evidence standard for proving mental retardation. Although Georgia led the nation in prohibiting the execution of mentally retarded offenders, it is now the only state that imposes a reasonable-doubt standard to prove mental retardation.

June 13, 2011 at 09:02 AM | Permalink


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It will be interesting to see how many judges on the 11th will find this holding to be "unreasonable." I suppose the en banc court was waiting for this until they finalize the opinion.

Posted by: DaveP | Jun 13, 2011 3:40:08 PM

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