Filed: July 6, 2020
Court: Supreme Court of Georgia
Overview: This amicus brief challenges Georgia’s “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in determining intellectual disability in death penalty cases as creating a constitutionally unacceptable risk that defendants who have legitimate claims of intellectual disability will nonetheless be sentenced to death.
Excerpt: “Georgia was the first state in the Nation to establish a prohibition against executing individuals with ID thirteen years before the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional exemption in Atkins, and its leadership on the issue is to be commended…Despite Georgia’s early leadership on the issue, since Atkins not a single defendant in Georgia has been held to be exempt from execution due to ID pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-7-131.6 As set forth below, this onerous burden of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is inconsistent with the clinical diagnostic process and encourages jurors to default to stereotypes about people with ID.”
Status: The State withdrew and called for a new trial based partly on prior error regarding the intellectual disability claims and will no longer seek the death penalty.