SCOTUS Saves Bobby Moore From Death, Again

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By George Khoury, Esq. on February 19, 2019 4:03 PM

In the ongoing saga of Bobby James Moore v. Texas, the High Court not only granted the death row inmate's petition for writ, the Court issued a summary reversal, and remanded the matter to the appellate.

If this sounds familiar, that's because this is the second time that SCOTUS has sent this case back down to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals with instructions to reconsider in light of their opinion. And this time, the Court, in short, told the Texas court that it didn't listen and has to do it again.

What's This Case About?

If you don't remember from the first time around, the big issue in Moore's case involved whether he is intellectually disabled, and thus, should be spared from execution. The High Court explained that the latest opinion of the Texas appellate court still relied on "lay stereotypes of the intellectually disabled."

Unfortunately for the state, the High Court has basically shipped back their last opinion with an instruction to be more in tune with reality and less reliant on stereotypes. The opinion concludes:

"We conclude that the appeals court's opinion, when taken as a whole and when read in the light both of our prior opinion and the trial court record, rests upon analysis too much of which too closely resembles what we previously found improper."

In a dissent, Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, lament the majority's decision, seemingly for causing confusion by their prior holding, and for not providing a clearer set of instructions in their opinion. The dissent seems to anticipate the case is just going to end right back at the High Court because, as Justice Alito put it:

"The error in this litigation was not the state court's decision on remand but our own failure to provide a coherent rule of decision in Moore. "

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