U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Texas High Court Rules Bobby Moore Can Face Death, Not Intellectually Disabled

Despite a recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court seeming to put Bobby Moore in relative safety (well, off death row), it was not long lived thanks to Texas's Supreme Court.

The state high court took the opinion of the nation's High Court quite literally and adopted the DSM-5 standard for intellectual disability. Then, it applied the new standard to Moore's case and concluded that Moore was not intellectually disabled, and thus could be executed. However, whether that will actually happen is a different, more political, story.

When Legal Gets Clinical

As last year's SCOTUS opinion explained, Texas's prior standard of evaluating whether an individual was intellectually disabled such that they could not be executed was outdated. The decision urged the state to update their standard to be in line with current medical standards for what it means to be intellectually disabled.

The Texas Supreme Court did just that, pulling their new standard directly from the DSM-5. It explained that the DSM also takes a three-pronged approach:

The DSM-5 retains the three-pronged approach to intellectual disability but refines it. The three criteria for finding someone to be intellectually disabled are: (A) deficits in general mental abilities, (B) impairment in everyday adaptive functioning, in comparison to an individual's age-, gender-, and socioculturally matched peers, and (C) onset during the developmental period.

In assessing the new criterion, the court found that the habeas court still improperly granted relief, effectively reinstating Moore's prior sentence.

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