Texas Continues to Pursue Death Penalty for Intellectually Disabled Man

In a past case involving a death row prisoner named Bobby Moore, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Texas’s framework for determining whether a prisoner had an intellectual disability, and was therefore not subject to execution, violated the Eighth Amendment. The Texas courts had relied on non-clinical criteria when determining whether Mr. Moore was intellectually disabled and the Supreme Court ruled that medical standards should be used. The Supreme Court’s majority decision noted that Mr. Moore had serious mental and social difficulties beginning in childhood that were not taken into account by the lower court.

If things had gone as they should, the Texas courts should have then applied the standard set out by the Supreme Court and found that Mr. Moore was intellectually disabled and not subject to execution. However, that’s not how things are working out in Texas.

Texas Pursues the Case

After the Supreme Court decision, the Harris County prosecutors changed their tune and asked for a life sentence, agreeing that Bobby Moore was intellectually disabled and should not be executed. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, supposedly applying a new standard, still determined that Mr. Moore was not intellectually disabled and could still be executed. Mr. Moore, who was convicted in 1980 for his part in the killing of a man during a botched robbery attempt, has been appealing his death sentence for decades. In October, Mr. Moore’s legal team once again appealed to the Supreme Court. After the prosecutors made the rare step of siding with the defense, the Texas Attorney General’s Office asked to take over, stating the prosecutors don’t represent the entire state of Texas.

A group of conservatives, prominent lawyers, and former deputy attorney generals have jumped into the case and filed a 24-page amicus brief criticizing the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for disregarding the Supreme Court and noting that Mr. Moore is clearly intellectually disabled. It is unclear whether the Supreme Court will take up the case and reverse Texas’s ruling.

If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.

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