DSM and the Death Penalty: Issue in SCOTUS Oral Argument Transcript

The United States Supreme Court has just heard oral arguments in a death penalty case where the intellectual ability and mental capabilities of the defendant is an issue. 

Those interested in this aspect of capital punishment may want to read the oral argument transcript in Moore v. Texas, which is available online here.

DSM and Death Penalty

Notice the discussion of  the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

What is appropriate?  What is accurate?

Here's an earlier post on the issue for a background on DSM -- did you know that narcissistic personality disorder was removed from DSM-V? See, "Use of DSM in the Law: the Doctors Need to Recognize this Reality in DSM-V."

See also, which discusses the impact of Hall v. Florida on this issue: Assessing Adaptive Functioning in Death Penalty Cases after Hall and DSM-5, Leigh D. Hagan, Eric Y. Drogin, Thomas J. Guilmette Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online Mar 2016, 44 (1) 96-105.


Happy Thanksgiving!


Steven Spears Georgia Execution Set for Today: Execution Schedule

While there have been many delays of executions this year, both by overall court decision (e.g., Florida) and by stays in an individual case (e.g., Texas), the death penalty is being carried out in this country.

Georgia Execution Scheduled Today: Steven Frederick Spears

Today, in fact, the State of Georgia is scheduled to execute Steven Frederick Spears for the 2007 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Sherri Holland. 

Details of his case can be read at The Marshall Project. 

As of the publication of this post, Mr. Spears was set to die in 4 hours and 53 minutes. 




Death Penalty 2016: Election Results

For details on yesterday's election results regarding capital punishment, read the coverage provided by The Marshall Project, the Catholic News Agency, and the ABA Journal

Here's the gist of it:

1.  California

Two different issues placed before voters in California.  The results:  they voted AGAINST repealing the death penalty.  And they voted on a proposal that many believe will work to clear the way for executions to begin again in California.

For more on California's Death Penalty, read our May 2011 post, "California 700+ Death Row Gets Good News: 2006 Moratorium on Death Penalty Will Continue For Now."

2.  Nebraska

Voters in Nebraska decided to put the death penalty back into action in that state.  Their legislature had repealed capital punishment, now it has returned.  Ten inmates currently reside on Nebraska's Death Row.

For more on Nebraska's Death Penalty, read our July 2015 post, "Two States May Bring Back the Death Penalty."

3.  Oklahoma

Voters agreed on an amendment to their state constitution which will recognize that the death penalty is not "cruel and unusual punishment" as defined by the federal constitution.  That's not all. 

Oklahoma also passed language that will allow its state legislature to provide alternative execution methods if it is decided that the lethal injection method is unconstitutional. 

(Notice how this does not jive with earlier polling results in Oklahoma, where pollsters reported that a majority favored life without parole over the death penalty.)

For more on Oklahoma's Death Penalty, check out our November 2015 post, "Lethal Injection Drug Controversies Stop Executions in Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma."


Texas Use of the 'Lennie Standard' for Mental Competency in Death Penalty

For those like Terence Lenamon, who fight on the issues of mental illness and intellectual ability in capital punishment, the use of the "Lennie Standard" by the State of Texas comes as no surprise.  It's been used for years.

Of Mice and Men

Thing is, lots of people weren't aware of this standard and they are pretty shocked by it. 

What is the "Lennie Standard" used by Texas?  It refers one of the main characters in John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men. (Warning: this is a real tear jerker.  Have tissues ready.)

For details on the Lennie Standard and the current case before SCOTUS which will be reviewing its use by Texas, read the DW.com article, "Texas on trial for using fictional character in death penalty cases."

Moore v. Texas Argument November 29, 2016

The SCOTUS case?  Moore v. Texas, with oral argument scheduled for November 29, 2016.



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