Warren Hill Too Mentally Disabled To Execute, But …

Warren Hill

Warren Hill

Warren Hill, who came within an hour of being executed by the state of Georgia in February, has filed a habeas petition at the US Supreme Court.  It was the Supreme Court that banned execution of those with “mental retardation” in 2002, although it was left to the states to decide how to determine a defendant’s intellectual disability.

As you may recall from previous posts, Warren Hill was found to be “mentally retarded” by a “preponderance of the evidence” by a Georgia state judge. This finding would have exempted him from execution in other states. But Georgia, and only Georgia, requires proof of “mental retardation” to be “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Earlier this year, the three mental health experts who had originally testified for the state – thereby creating “reasonable doubt” about Hill’s “mental retardation” claim – took a second, deeper look, and they now agree that Hill is in fact disabled to the extent that it would be unconstitutional to execute him. So now that all 7 experts who have examined him are of the unanimous opinion that Hill is “mentally retarded,” his lawyers have gone back to court to establish that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold has been reached.

Because of this new evidence, Hill’s execution was stayed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But then, a panel of that court decided (2-1, with a strong dissent) that Hill was “procedurally barred” from actually having his claim heard. This ruling illustrates perfectly the danger of laws, passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in the 1990s, designed to limit appeals.

A claim based on new information with obvious relevance – that addresses a serious constitutional question and has the potential to result in a grave injustice – gets dismissed without a hearing. As Judge Rosemary Barkett wrote in her dissent [starting on p. 39] from this ruling:

“If the Supreme Court means that the mentally retarded cannot be constitutionally executed, and Hill has now shown beyond any reasonable doubt that he is mentally retarded, a congressional act cannot be applied to trump Hill’s constitutional right not to be executed.”

Hill’s petition to the US Supreme Court is meant to get an affirmation of this fact – that Congressional laws cannot supersede Supreme Court decisions, and that Georgia cannot be allowed to carry out an unconstitutional execution.

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4 thoughts on “Warren Hill Too Mentally Disabled To Execute, But …

  1. This guys mugshot back on your blog? The twice convicted murderer (first for shooting his girlfriend 11 times – the second for brutally beating to death an inmate using a two-by-four with nails sticking out of it that he was intelligent enough to secure and use while in maximum security prison)? The guy who lives his life — attending and successfully graduating high school, qualifying both mentally and physically for enlistment in the US Navy. Earning a series of promotions in the Navy and at one point serving in the challenging position of Navy Recruiter. Going through two separate murder trials (conviction and sentencing). And never diagnosed mentally retarded until landing himself on death row. REMARKABLE and so very convenient. Just as 2 of 3 11th Circuit judges don't buy it — I hope the Supreme Court rules similarly.

  2. You have no honor Brian Evans. You quash dissent when it uncovers in your writings embelishment to misinform the public and counteracts it with facts Luckily there is Facebook.

  3. People that are against the death penalty for career criminals and ruthless murderers are a cancer to the justice system and the good people of this great nation. Anyone that is a convicted career criminal that cannot live in a civilized society without stealing the labor of someone willing to labor for a living, or a murder that is proven beyond all reasonable doubt was not justifiable self defense should get executed without delay weather they are mentally unstable, crazy, addicted to drugs, was bullied as a youngster or abused by whomever. Almost all criminals refuse to accept responsibility for their actions.
    Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 by English labour lawyer Peter Benenson to help those "imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government"[11] or, put another way, to violations, by governments, of articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The article described these violations occurring, on a global scale, in the context of restrictions to press freedom, to political oppositions, to timely public trial before impartial courts, and to asylum. It was not started as an organization to abolish the death penalty, or to support the purely evil murderers for all the days of their life or free all the criminals to demonize the moral public.

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