In 2000, Ramiro Hernandez was convicted in Texas state court of murdering his employer, and was sentenced to death. Hernandez sought habeas relief from the state district court, arguing in part that because he suffered from mental retardation, his execution would be unconstitutional under Atkins v. Virginia. In Hernandez v. Stephens, the Fifth Circuit ruled that Atkins permits a state court to find that a defendant is not intellectually disabled, notwithstanding IQ scores in the disabled range, if that score is brought up to the bottom of the non-disabled range when "scaled to Mexican norms." Can the determination of intellectual disability -- and thus death penalty eligibility -- depend on his national origin? Our experts discussed their amicus brief in support of the petition for certiorari, available here.
- Erin C. Blondel, Associate, Ellis & Winters LLP
- Prof. Ernest A. Young, Alston & Bird Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law