ACLU -- Death Penalty News
Court Standards for Determining Intellectual Disability Drawn From Novella 'Of Mice and Men'
January 27, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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NEW YORK – Robert Ladd, an intellectually disabled person with an IQ of 67, was denied a stay of execution today by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Although in any other state he would be considered ineligible for the death penalty because of his intellectual disability, Ladd doesn't meet the Texas courts' standards to determine whether a person is intellectually disabled, which were drawn in part on the character Lennie Small in "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck. Ladd will be executed by the state of Texas at 6:00 pm CT on Thursday, January 29, unless courts intervene.
"This case is indeed stranger than fiction. Anywhere else in the country, Mr. Ladd's IQ of 67 would have meant a life sentence, not death," said Brian Stull, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project and Ladd's attorney. "But the Texas courts insist on severely misjudging his intellectual capacity, relying on standards for gauging intelligence crafted from 'Of Mice and Men' and other sources that have nothing to do with science or medicine. Robert Ladd's fate shouldn't depend on a novella."
The Supreme Court has twice ruled to protect the intellectually disabled from capital punishment: Atkins v. Virginia (2002) and Hall v. Florida(2014). Those decisions should exempt Mr. Ladd from the death penalty, as he was labeled "fairly obviously retarded" at age 13 by the Texas Youth Commission in 1970. After the Atkins decision, the psychiatrist who had examined Mr. Ladd reviewed his notes and reaffirmed his initial diagnosis in an affidavit, stating his IQ test and "three separate interviews confirmed my diagnosis of mental retardation." At age 36, Mr. Ladd qualified for services at the Andrews Center in Tyler, Texas, which assists the intellectually disabled as well as the mentally ill.
"Robert Ladd's life is full of evidence of his intellectual disability, and he doesn't belong on death row," said Stull. "We will continue to ask the courts to uphold the protections of Atkins and Hall to spare him from execution."
For more information about the case Ex Parte Ladd, visit: https://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/ex-parte-ladd
For information about the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, visit: https://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment
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NEW YORK – At 7:28 PM CT, the state of Oklahoma executed Charles Warner by lethal injection. This was the first execution in the state since Clayton Lockett’s botched execution in April 2014. Says Cassandra Stubbs, Director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project:Despite the public outcry over Clayton Lockett’s horrifically botched execution, Oklahoma has just picked up where it left off. Prison officials used midazolam on Charles Warner, a drug that had failed during Lockett’s execution and that doctors say has no place in lethal injection. In every state that has used it, midazolam has failed to render the prisoner unconscious, and has led to botched and torturous executions. Due to the paralyzing effects of other drugs Warner received tonight, we will never know whether he experienced excruciating pain throughout the execution. What we do know is that Oklahoma’s willingness to risk that pain violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and international human rights.
For more on the human rights violations, see the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decision in response to an ACLU petition on Charles Warner's behalf: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/2014_may_20_resolucion_mc_177-14.pdf