Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Court Decisions: Weston v Arkansas (2006)

Thanks to Kevin Foley (again) for sending me an Atkins decision from Arkansas that was missing from the ICDP Court Decisions blog roll.  This now makes n=99 different cases that are listed.

The decision is Weston v Arkansas (2006).  The published document is sparse with regard to the ID/MR information, so it is very difficult to ascertain the specific arguments and issues involved in this Atkins case.   The decision indicates that two different mental health experts had tested the defendant and reported IQ scores in the 50's, but the issue of malingering was present, so the case was sent to jury.

Of interest is the Arkansas statute related to Atkins, which is a bit different from most other states.  As extracted from the ruling: Ark. Code Ann. § 5-4-618 (Repl. 1997), which states that “there is a rebuttable presumption of mental retardation when a defendant has an intelligence quotient of sixty-five (65) or below,” and, that “no defendant with mental retardation at the time of committing capital murder shall be sentenced to death.” Ark. Code Ann. § 5-4-618(a)(2)"  It is my understanding of the statute that if a person has intellectual functioning measured at 65 or below, that the death penalty cannot apply---and it is the burden of the state to prove otherwise.  For individuals above the score of 65 (65-70/75 range), the burden of proof of ID/MR then shifts to the defendant.

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