Death penalty: When stupid is an advantage

posted by
December 15, 2016
Authority!
by Timothy J Taylor  
Posted in Commentary

"When it comes to the death penalty in the United States of America did you know that if you're a murderer it pays dividends to be stupid? That's right. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that subjecting an intellectually disabled murderer to the death penalty amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Frying an intellectually abled murderer to death is OK, no problem, but the lives of stupid murderers must be spared." (12/15/16)

http://authoritycon.blogspot.com/2016/12/death-penalty-when-stupid-is-advantage.html  

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  • dL

    Oh, because the classification of the motive is an integral component of the classification of the crime. If A’s actions result in B’s death, A’s motives determine the adjudication of the crime. If an accident, A may not even be charged with a crime. If negligence, then manslaughter. If willful to injure but not premeditated, then second-degree murder. If willful and premeditated, then first-degree murder.

    Capital cases are usually reserved for cases involving loss of life and motives that rise to willful and premeditated. Given that cognitively disabled people are not capable of planning a willfully premeditated event, it stands to reason that a committed crime by such a person does not rise to a level of a capital offense. Absolutely nothing contradictory, doublethink, political correct, etc about that. Indeed, the only political correctness in the matter I can detect is the right-wing PC variety that feels the state should be in the business of executing cognitively disabled people. Jez…

    • timothytaylor

      The issue here involves the death penalty, not whether the accused was intellectually capable of committing the crime. The fact is that a defendant can be perfectly capable of planning a willfully premeditated event and therefore be properly convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty, but if before the sentence is carried out he is found to be intellectually disabled, he may not be put to death says SCOTUS.

      • dL

        The issue here involves the death penalty, not whether the accused was intellectually capable of committing the crime.

        The former entirely relies on the latter…duh! In the determination of the cognitive capability to willfully and premeditate the action. Without establishing that motive threshold, there is no capital case. Obviously, you didn’t go to law school. But in reality, that’s common knowledge from any schoolboy civics class.

        The fact is that a defendant can be perfectly capable of planning a willfully premeditated event and therefore be properly convicted of first degree murder and given the death penalty, but if before the sentence is carried out he is found to be intellectually disabled, he may not be put to death says SCOTUS.

        A “proper conviction” entails surviving a challenge/appeals to higher courts. That’s how the fucking thing works. Once again, common civics knowledge. A lower court may convict, it can then be appealed to higher courts. State criminal capital cases are going to be appealed to the state supreme courts and then to SCOTUS. As a matter of course. SCOTUS may take the case if it is interested in setting a precedent. In this instance, that appears to be the case in that SCOTUS appears to have struck down a simple IQ score threshold for establishing mental competency. Given that I am a vehement opponent to the death penalty, I find it to be a positive ruling. I understand that right-wing authoritarians who favor the power of the state to execute won’t like it and will whine about “liberal judges.” Well, thank god for liberal judges. I only wish the “liberal judges were a bit more consistent in their liberalism. They ought to strike down the death penalty completely as a barbaric practice.

        • dL,

          Sorry, you’re wrong on this one.

          If I go out tomorrow and, while perfectly competent, kill you, am arrested for the crime, convicted of the crime, and sentenced to die for the crime …

          … then I drop an anvil on my head in the prison workshop and damage my brain …

          … the state can’t execute me.

          I have to be competent at the time of the execution.

          Whether or not I was competent at the time I committed the crime is a completely separate issue.

          • timothy taylor

            You’re spot on, Tom… Obviously, it is dL who didn’t go to law school.

          • dL

            no, dL did not go to law school. Nor would dL ever want to go to law school. However, dL does have the intellectual wherewithal to figure out the case you cited addressed the mental competency evaluation standards for capital case convictions and not the question of cruel and unusual punishment intellectual disability for post-trial induced head trauma. He also possesses a basic layman’s knowledge that the comprehensiveness of case law precedent is set by the appellate court system.

          • dL

            Well, the case didn’t refer to post crime incompetency. It referred to state mental evaluation standards for capital offense convictions. In this instance, a simple IQ test threshold trumping a complete mental competency evaluation. So if you scored a 71 on an IQ test, any further examination of the mental competency of the defendant to stand trial for a capital offense is dispensed with.

            The case in question did not set the precedent for executing intellectual disability as an 8th amendment cruel and unusual punishment violation.Obviously, the cruel and unusual punishment standard is impelled by the question of the mental condition of the defendant w/ regard to motive capability at the time of the crime. **** While post-crime disability trauma is an outlier loophole that may have to be rolled into the cruel and unusual punishment standard, that’s not the PRECEDENT of the case. My guess if that if you were to have such a case, the state would still try to execute and the execution would be appealed to SCOTUS whereupon the question/precedent would be more comprehensively established.

            Interestingly, a previous case that much more fits TLK’s hypothetical above is the infamous ricky ray rector case from the early 90s. Rector committed the crime as a competent agent but then shot himself in the head when negotiating his surrender. He was competent vis a vis the crime but incompetent vis a vis the criminal trial. Bill Clinton personally oversaw his execution to establish his bona fides as a “tough on crime” white liberal.

            **** The 2002 case that set the crural and unusual standard involved the question of the mental retardation of the defendant at the time of the crime.

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