Supreme Court Reverses Florida's IQ-Related Death Penalty Law

Late last month, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court issued in a ruling in the case of Hall v. State of Florida, according to a Washington Post report. The narrow five judge majority struck down a Florida law that limited the intellectual disability exemption to the death penalty based on an inmate's IQ. This follows a 2002 ruling by the court that said sentencing intellectually disabled people to death was unconstitutional.

Writing the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said specific IQ numbers are not an accurate measurement of intellectual disability, and thus it was not good to establish a strict standard for disability. Rather, he said a range of tests and IQ measurements should be used to evaluate whether an inmate qualifies as intellectually disabled. Under the Florida law, an inmate with an IQ of 70 was not able to be executed, but an inmate with an IQ of 71 could.

Lawyers for the inmate in the Supreme Court case argued that he was intellectually disabled because he scored 71, 72 and 73 on the IQ test and there was strong evidence of intellectual disability. The inmate's lawyers sued the state in court because they thought the law was too narrow, and the five justices of the Supreme Court agreed. This ruling means more inmates may be able to challenge their death penalty conviction on the grounds of disability.

Death Penalty Charges Require Committed, Aggressive Defense

The most serious matter a criminal defense lawyer can handle is a death penalty case because a client's life is literally at stake. At Taylor & Waldrop, we are one of the few criminal defense law firms in Florida approved to handle death penalty cases.

We take this responsibility incredibly seriously. Our firm is passionate about providing careful, compassionate legal representation in death penalty cases. Someone facing the prospect of death row deserves no less than 100% service at all times. Our St. Augustine criminal defense attorneys can also help you appeal a death penalty conviction.

If you or a loved one is facing a death penalty charge, please contact us today. We understand the stress and worry this situation can bring, and we are here to provide comfort during your trying time. It is crucial you get a knowledgeable attorney to fight aggressively against this most serious criminal charge.