Last month, the pending case of Michael Bies was discussed here – Bies, held to have an IQ of 63, had been sentenced to die by the State of Ohio and advocates for Bies took his case to the highest court in the land in protest. Testimony had been provided that Michael Bies was functionally mentally retarded.
We don’t execute the mentally retarded in this country; this has been held to violate the Eighth Amendment as being cruel and unusual punishment in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002).
Supreme Court Rules That Bies’ Case Goes Back to Ohio for Further Proceedings
Nevertheless, today the U.S. Supreme Court has announced that the Bies case can return to Ohio for another trial on the appropriate sentence for his crime. (Bies has been found guilty of the kidnap and murder of a 10-year-old boy.) Why? The Court has found that the federal appellate court was too speedy in throwing out capital punishment for Michael Bies because the federal court acted before the 2002 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the subject.
“Mental retardation was not a conclusive or necessary determination in any Ohio court proceeding to date,” according to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Attorneys for Michael Bies will return to the Ohio courtroom, where another sentencing trial will be had. At that proceeding, they’ll argue once more that Bies must be spared the death penalty because of his mental retardation – and the prosecution will once again fight for the death of Michael Bies.