SCOTUS Halts Execution of Intellectually Disabled Man


The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its decision in Moore v. Texas, which halted the planned execution of an intellectually disabled man in the state of Texas. In keeping with its precedent, the high Court ruled in this case that the state of Texas’s proposed execution of Moore was unlawful due to his intellectual disabilities. The Court reversed the lower state court ruling and found that Moore was ineligible for execution.

In its decision, the Court discounted the Texas court’s method of measuring intellectual disability. The state had relied on assessments concerning the man’s ability to lie and his leadership abilities, neither of which are clinically accepted methods of assessing intellectual disabilities. Rather, these assessments are extremely limited and rely on stereotypes about disabled persons in general. Texas also relied on IQ testing as a measure of intellectual disability, which also is a deeply flawed methodology for measuring intellectual disability. The decision, authored by Justice Ginsburg, specifically attacked the methodologies utilized by the Texas courts in determining the man to be fit for execution.

Supreme court building
SCOTUS Halts Execution of Intellectually Disabled Man

The state of Texas has been attempting to execute Moore since 1980, when he was sentenced to death for his role in the robbery of a grocery store that led to a clerk’s death. The Texas Court of Appeals previously determined that Moore was not intellectually disabled due to his ability to mow the lawn, steal food, and use basic math. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, and remanded the case back to the Texas court to assess the man’s intellectual capacity based on medical or clinical expertise, rather than subjective criteria based on a character in a John Steinbeck novel that the state court cited in its decision.

After Texas still determined that Moore was eligible for execution, the Supreme Court finally stepped in and ruled otherwise. Of particular note was the fact that the Texas court solicited the opinions of five experts in measuring Moore’s intellect. Four of the five experts believe that Moore was intellectually disabled. The fifth expert disagreed, and the Texas court ultimately adopted the findings of the fifth expert, despite the opinions of the other four experts to the contrary. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek Law Group have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 399-2311 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

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