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Atkins v. Virginia

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Criminal Law Keyed to Kadish

Citation. 536 U.S 304 (2002)

Brief Fact Summary. Atkins contention was that the execution of a mentally retarded criminal is a cruel and unusual punishment which contravenes the Eighth Amendment. He made this contention when he was sentenced to death for committing murder. Atkins (D) had an IQ 0f 59 at the time of his conviction.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Under the Eighth Amendment, the capital punishment of a mentally retarded convict is cruel and unusual.

Facts. Atkins Daryl (D) was sentenced to death for shooting a patron of an automated teller machine and for robbery, after he was found guilty of abduction, capital murder and armed robbery. A verdict of “mildly mentally retarded” pertaining to the health of Atkins (D), was given by a forensic psychologist. This verdict of the psychologist was based on the interview he had with Atkins (D) and with others who knew him, review of school and court records of other crimes and a standard intelligence test which showed that Atkins (D) had a full scale IQ of 59. Atkins (D) however appealed against the ruling of the trial court on the ground that sentencing a mentally retarded criminal to death was a cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

Issue. Under the Eighth Amendment, is the capital punishment of a mentally retarded convict cruel and unusual?

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