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United States v. Wilson

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 7, 2013

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Ronell WILSON, Defendant.

Page 335

Carter H. Burwell, Colleen Elizabeth Kavanagh, Jack Smith, James G. McGovern, Jason Allen Jones, Celia Cohen, Shreve Ariail, United States Attorneys Office, Eastern District Of New York, Brooklyn, NY, for United States of America.

Colleen Quinn Brady, The Law Office of Colleen Quinn Brady, David Stern, Rothman, Schneider, Soloway & Stern, P.C., Beverly Van Ness, New York, NY, Michael N. Burt, Law Office of Michael Burt, San Francisco, CA, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, District Judge.

The execution of those who are mentally retarded violates both the Federal Death Penalty Act and the Eighth Amendment. See 18 U.S.C. § 3596(c); Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 321, 122 S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002). Defendant Earl Ronell Wilson, a convicted murderer of two undercover police officers, claims that he is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible to receive the death penalty. For the reasons that follow, he is incorrect.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

In 2003, Wilson murdered two undercover NYPD detectives who were posing as gun purchasers. ( See Second Superseding Indictment (Dkt. 179) ¶¶ 7, 9.) He was tried in this court for capital-eligible crimes. (Trial Tr. (Dkts. 362-404).) The jury convicted Wilson and voted to impose the death penalty. (Jury Verdict (Dkt. 351).) The court accordingly sentenced Wilson to death. (Judgment (Dkt. 407).) Wilson appealed, and the Second Circuit affirmed Wilson's convictions but vacated his death sentence on constitutional grounds and remanded to this court for

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retrial of his penalty phase. United States v. Whitten, 610 F.3d 168 (2d Cir.2010).

After the Second Circuit's mandate issued, Wilson requested " a pretrial hearing to determine whether he is a person with mental retardation" and thus ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment and the Federal Death Penalty Act (the " Atkins claim" ). (Dkt. 614.) The court granted this request and set a schedule for exchange of expert information, motions related to the Atkins claim, and an evidentiary hearing (the " Atkins hearing" ). ( See Feb. 2, 2012, Order (Dkt. 618).)

Wilson provided notice of his intent to call four mental health experts at the Atkins hearing: (1) John Olley, Ph.D., a psychologist; (2) Bruce Shapiro, M.D., a developmental pediatrician; (3) Joette James, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist; and (4) George Woods, Jr., a licensed physician. (Mar. 7, 2012, Def. Ltr. (Dkt. 637).) The Government stated that it would call three experts at the hearing: (1) Robert Denney, Psy.D., a neuropsychologist; (2) Robert Mapou, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist; and (3) Raymond Patterson, M.D., a psychiatrist. (Mar. 7, 2012, Gov't Ltr. (Dkt. 638); Apr. 6, 2012, Gov't Ltr. (Dkt. 676); May 2, 2012, Gov't Ltr. (Dkt. 697).) Since then, the parties and their experts have conducted extensive discovery and testing in preparation for the Atkins hearing. The court has also issued two opinions in response to motions filed by the parties regarding the scope of discovery. See United States v. Wilson, No. 04-CR-1016 (NGG), 2012 WL 3890951, at *4-8 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2012); United States v. Wilson, No. 04-CR-1016 (NGG), 920 F.Supp.2d 287, 295-306, 2012 WL 6962982, at *6-16 (E.D.N.Y. June 22, 2012).

On September 7, 2012, the parties exchanged expert reports. ( See Sept. 7, 2012, Def. Ltr. (Dkt. 868).) Each of the Government's experts opined that Wilson is not mentally retarded. (Denney Rep. (Dkt. 956) at 48; Patterson Rep. (Dkt. 957) at 18; Mapou Rep. (Dkt. 958) at 35.) Each of Wilson's experts opined that he is mentally retarded. (James Rep. (Dkt. 959) at 1, 17; Olley Rep. (Dkt. 960) at 28; Shapiro Rep. (Dkt. 961) at 2, 22; Woods Rep. (Dkt. 962) at 29.)

The court held the Atkins hearing over nine days in November and December 2012. ( See Minute Entries (Dkts. 950-55, 976-78).) It heard testimony from all seven of the experts mentioned above and four other witnesses. ( See Atkins Hr'g Tr. (" Tr." ).) The parties submitted briefing on the Atkins claim after the hearing. (Def. Mem. (Dkt. 982); Gov't Mem. (Dkt. 983); [2] Def. Reply (Dkt. 999).)

II. STANDARD FOR MENTAL RETARDATION

Two provisions of law forbid federal courts from imposing a death sentence upon a person who is mentally retarded. First, the Federal Death Penalty Act (" FDPA" ), originally enacted by Congress in 1988 and amended in 1994, provides that a " sentence of death shall not be carried out upon a person who is mentally retarded." 18 U.S.C. § 3596(c). Second, the execution of mentally retarded individuals violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on " cruel and unusual punishments." Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 321, 122 S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002); see U.S. Const. amend. VIII (" Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,

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nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." ).

In Atkins, the Supreme Court found that, due to the relatively recent legislative efforts of several states, " a national consensus ha[d] developed against" the execution of mentally retarded offenders. Atkins, 536 U.S. at 316, 122 S.Ct. 2242. Such executions were therefore inconsistent with " ‘ the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society’ " — the guiding principle of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 311-12, 126 S.Ct. 941 (quoting Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101, 78 S.Ct. 590, 2 L.Ed.2d 630 (1958)). The Court concluded that although the intellectual deficiencies of mentally retarded criminals did " not warrant an exemption from criminal sanctions " — including life imprisonment— such criminals " should be categorically excluded from execution " for two main reasons. Id. at 318, 126 S.Ct. 941 (emphases added). First, there was a " serious question" as to whether the execution of mentally retarded offenders would serve the deterrence or retribution justifications of the death penalty. Id. at 318-319, 126 S.Ct. 941. Second, there was an enhanced risk in the case of mentally retarded offenders " that the death penalty w[ould] be imposed in spite of factors which may call for a less severe penalty," both because of " the possibility of false confessions" by mentally retarded defendants and because of the " lesser ability of mentally retarded defendants to make a persuasive showing of mitigation." Id. at 320, 126 S.Ct. 941.

It is therefore clear that this court may not sentence a mentally retarded criminal to death, but that is where most of the clarity ends. The difficult task is deciding which persons qualify as " mentally retarded" under the FDPA and Atkins — an issue of first impression in this Circuit.

A. Sources of the Definition

Neither the FDPA nor Atkins mandates a particular definition of mentally retardation. The FDPA provides simply that " mentally retarded" persons may not be executed. 18 U.S.C. § 3596(c); see also Garcia Briseno v. Dretke, No. 05-CV-08, 2007 WL 998743, at *10 n. 8 (S.D.Tex. Mar. 29, 2007). And Atkins expressly left " to the States the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon their execution of sentences." 536 U.S. at 317, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (alterations omitted); see also Bobby v. Bies, 556 U.S. 825, 129 S.Ct. 2145, 2150, 173 L.Ed.2d 1173 (2009) (" Our opinion [in Atkins ] did not provide definitive procedural or substantive guides for determining when a person who claims mental retardation ‘ will be so impaired as to fall [within Atkins ’ compass].' " (second alteration in original) (quoting Atkins, 536 U.S. at 317, 122 S.Ct. 2242)). Atkins noted, however, that although state " statutory definitions of mental retardation [we]re not identical, [they] generally conform[ed] to [ ] clinical definitions" promulgated by two groups: (1) the American Association on Mental Retardation (" AAMR" ), which has since changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (" AAIDD" ); and (2) the American Psychiatric Association (" APA" ). Id. at 308 n. 3, 317 n. 22, 122 S.Ct. 2242. The Court further noted that these clinical definitions " require not only subaverage intellectual functioning, but also significant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction that became manifest before age 18." Id. at 318, 122 S.Ct. 2242. In short, Atkins declined to mandate a definition of mental retardation but left it to the states to define the term, while noting that existing state definitions generally conformed to the clinical definitions set forth by the AAMR and the APA.

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Atkins did not hold that federal courts are bound to apply the mental retardation definitions of the particular states in which they are located, nor does the FDPA contain any such mandate. Federal courts that have decided cases involving both Atkins and FDPA claims have taken inconsistent approaches in this regard: some have applied their forum state's law, see, e.g., United States v. Cisneros, 385 F.Supp.2d 567, 571-72 (E.D.Va.2005) (applying Virginia law), while others have made no mention of their state's law and applied only clinical definitions of mental retardation, see, e.g., United States v. Hardy, 762 F.Supp.2d 849 (E.D.La.2010) (no mention of Louisiana law); United States v. Davis, 611 F.Supp.2d 472 (D.Md.2009) (no mention of Maryland law).[3] This court will consider New York law in determining the definition of mental retardation, while noting that: (1) Atkins does not explicitly require that the court be bound by New York law; and (2) even if it did, an application of New York law would, as discussed below, ultimately lead the court to rely primarily upon clinical definitions of the term.

New York has been without the death penalty since 2004, when the New York Court of Appeals held that the State's capital sentencing statute violated its Constitution. See People v. LaValle, 3 N.Y.3d 88, 783 N.Y.S.2d 485, 817 N.E.2d 341 (2004). This statute is, however, still on the books for the most part. See New York Criminal Procedure Law (" C.P.L." ) § 400.27. As before LaValle, the statute requires a court to side aside a defendant's capital sentence if it finds that the defendant is mentally retarded, with certain exceptions. See id. § 400.27(12). The statute provides further that " ‘ mental retardation’ means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior which were manifested before the age of eighteen." Id. § 400.27(12)(e). Atkins cited this statute in support of its finding that a national consensus had developed against the execution of mentally retarded individuals. See 536 U.S. at 314 & n. 13, 122 S.Ct. 2242; see generally People v. Smith, 193 Misc.2d 462, 751 N.Y.S.2d 356, 357 (N.Y.Sup.Ct.2002).

New York's statute, however, provides little guidance as to the definition of mental retardation for three reasons. First, although the statute is still technically in force, it has been effectively rendered a nullity by the invalidation of New York's death penalty scheme, and thus can be considered at most only a weak expression by the State of the definition of mental retardation for Atkins purposes. Second, even if the statute could inform the definition of mental retardation under Atkins, it likely would not affect the definition under the FDPA, which independently forbids the execution of mentally retarded offenders. See 18 U.S.C. § 3596(c). Third, the definition in New York's statute is essentially identical to the clinical definitions discussed below, and neither the statute itself nor any New York case law provides guidance beyond the statute's definitional statement. Indeed, the language of the statute tracks very closely with a 1983 definition propounded by the AAIDD (then known as the American Association on Mental Deficiency). See American Association

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on Mental Deficiency, Classification in Mental Retardation 1 (8th ed. 1983) (" Mental retardation refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior, and manifested during the developmental period." ).

For these reasons, the court relies largely on the clinical definitions of mental retardation promulgated by the AAIDD and the APA, the two leading authorities on the subject. These authorities were cited favorably in Atkins, and nothing in either the FDPA or New York law prevents the court from relying upon them. Most federal courts have taken the same approach when deciding Atkins cases. See, e.g., United States v. Smith, 790 F.Supp.2d 482, 485-86 (E.D.La.2011); United States v. Lewis, No. 08-CR-404 (SO), 2010 WL 5418901, at *5, *23 (N.D.Ohio Dec. 23, 2010); Hardy, 762 F.Supp.2d at 854; Davis, 611 F.Supp.2d at 474.

The court emphasizes, however, that " psychology informs, but does not determinatively decide, whether an inmate is exempt from execution." Ortiz v. United States, 664 F.3d 1151, 1168 (8th Cir.2011). Atkins " did not delegate to psychologists the determination of whether an inmate should not face execution." United States v. Bourgeois, No. 02-CR-216, 2011 WL 1930684, at *24 (S.D.Tex. May 19, 2011); see also Hooks v. Workman, 689 F.3d 1148, 1172 (10th Cir.2012) (" Atkins could have adopted the clinical standard, but explicitly declined to do so." ); Clark v. Quarterman, 457 F.3d 441, 445 (5th Cir.2006)( Atkins " did not dictate that the approach" to defining mental retardation " must track the approach of the [AAIDD] or the APA exactly" ); United States v. Candelario-Santana, No. 09-CV-427 (JAF), 916 F.Supp.2d 191, 194, 2013 WL 101615, at *2 (D.P.R. Jan. 8, 2013) (" Though the clinical standards have informed our analysis, we emphasize that a clinical standard is not a constitutional command." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Instead, while noting the leading clinical definitions of mental retardation, Atkins expressly permitted state legislatures and courts to exercise their own judgments as to the definition of mental retardation, even if those judgments diverged from those of leading psychologists. See Atkins, 536 U.S. at 317, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (" [W]e leave to the States the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon their execution of sentences." (alterations omitted)); see also id. at 317 n. 22, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (" The statutory definitions of mental retardation ... generally conform to the clinical definitions ...." (emphasis added)). This must logically be true as well in situations like this one in which a federal court must define the term in the absence of significant state legislative or state judicial guidance. See Bourgeois, 2011 WL 1930684, at *24( Atkins " left the contours of the constitutional protection to the courts" ). The court will thus rely heavily upon clinical definitions and expert testimony to determine the definition of mental retardation for capital punishment purposes, but, particularly where these definitions and testimony are ambiguous or conflicting (as they often are in this case), it will apply its own judgment as to the " appropriate ways" to enforce the ultimately legal prohibition on executing mentally retarded offenders. Atkins, 536 U.S. at 317, 122 S.Ct. 2242.

The court must also decide whether it should rely upon current clinical definitions of mental retardation or those that were in place at the time of Atkins. Although Atkins cited the APA definition that is used today, see 536 U.S. at 308 n. 3, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (citing APA, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 41 (4th ed. 2000) (" DSM-IV-TR" )), it cited the 1992 version of the AAIDD's

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definition, see id. (citing AAMR, Mental Retardation: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports 5 (9th ed. 1992)), which the AAIDD has since supplanted with two recent publications, see AAIDD, Intellectual Disability: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports (11th ed. 2010) (" AAIDD 2010 Manual" ); AAIDD, User's Guide: Intellectual Disability: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports (11th ed. 2012) (" AAIDD 2012 User's Guide" ). The Government argues that because " these later AAIDD materials were not contemplated by the Atkins Court" and " fall outside the scope of the ‘ national consensus' upon which the Supreme Court relied in Atkins, " the court should not adopt them as part of the AAIDD's definition of mental retardation. (Gov't Mem. at 18-19; see also id. at 24-26.)

The court disagrees. Contrary to the Government's argument, Atkins did not conclude that there was a national consensus as to the definition of mental retardation; it suggested just the opposite. See 536 U.S. at 317, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (" To the extent there is serious disagreement about the execution of mentally retarded offenders, it is in determining which offenders are in fact retarded." ). What the Court concluded was that there was a national consensus against execution of those offenders that fit within a given state's definition of mental retardation, while permitting the states to continue to define the contours of the definition in their own— and differing— ways. See id. The Government cannot seriously dispute that a state would be permitted to define mental retardation according to current clinical definitions as opposed to those existing at the time of Atkins. It logically follows that, in the absence of binding law to the contrary, this court is also permitted to exercise its judgment as to the best interpretation of " mental retardation," even if that interpretation diverges from the understanding of the term at the time Atkins was decided. In any event, surely nothing in the FDPA prevents the court from doing so.

It is also important to note that the Government's approach would be very difficult (if not impossible) to apply in practice. For example, if Atkins requires the court to apply only the clinical standards in place at the time it was decided, does that mean the court prohibited from considering intelligence tests developed after Atkins? The Government apparently does not think so, because its own expert, Dr. Denney, administered an intelligence test on Wilson that was published in 2008, six years after Atkins. ( See Denney Rep. at 40.) Moreover, as will be discussed in Part III, clinical judgment is essential to the interpretation of intelligence testing. The Government's approach may require clinicians to set aside much of their training in post- Atkins psychological standards and to train themselves (for Atkins purposes alone) in the outdated standards existing in 2002. Atkins should not be read to require this result.[4]

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Thus, because the AAIDD 2010 Manual reflects the AAIDD's view of the current best practices in the field, the court will rely upon this edition. Such reliance is permissible under Atkins and the FDPA, sensible as a practical matter, and consistent with the approach of other federal courts. See, e.g., United States v. Northington, No. 07-CR-550-05, 2012 WL 4024944, at *3 (E.D.Pa. Sept. 12, 2012) (" Northington II " ); Smith, 790 F.Supp.2d at 484; Bourgeois, 2011 WL 1930684, at *23 n. 27; Lewis, 2010 WL 5418901, at *8; Hardy, 762 F.Supp.2d at 854 n. 5.[5]

B. Clinical Definitions of Mental Retardation

The definitions of mental retardation set forth by the AAIDD and the APA are " essentially identical." Davis, 611 F.Supp.2d at 475; see also Ortiz, 664 F.3d at 1158; United States v. Northington, No. 07-CR-550-05, 2012 WL 2873360, at *2 n. 6 (E.D.Pa. July 12, 2012) (" Northington I " ); Lewis, 2010 WL 5418901, at *5; see generally United States v. Nelson, 419 F.Supp.2d 891, 894-95 (E.D.La.2006) (explaining the minor differences between the definitions and noting that they " do not appear to conflict" ).

According to the APA, a diagnosis of mental retardation requires:

A. Significantly subaverage intellectual functioning: an IQ of approximately 70 or below on an individually administered IQ test....
B. Concurrent deficits or impairments in present adaptive functioning (i.e., a person's effectiveness in meeting the standards expected for his or her age by his or her cultural group) in at least two of the following areas: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health and safety.
C. The onset is before 18 years of age.

DSM-IV-TR at 49.

The AAIDD defines mental retardation (which it now calls " intellectual disability" or " ID" [6]) as follows: " Intellectual disability is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before 18." AAIDD 2010 Manual at 1.

Putting these two clinical standards together, the definition of mental retardation has three " uniformly accepted" requirements, Bourgeois, 2011 WL 1930684, at *24, which the court will at times refer to as " prongs one, two, and three." These requirements are: (1) significantly subaverage intellectual functioning; (2) significant

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deficits in adaptive behavioral skills; and (3) onset of the condition before age eighteen. See AAIDD 2010 Manual at 7, 27, 41; DSM-IV-TR at 49; Taylor v. Quarterman, 498 F.3d 306, 307 (5th Cir.2007); Northington II, 2012 WL 4024944, at *3; Davis, 611 F.Supp.2d at 475; cf. Atkins, 536 U.S. at 318, 122 S.Ct. 2242. The three prongs are each " indispensable" to a finding of mental retardation. Blue v. Thaler, No. 05-CV-2726 (H), 2010 WL 8742423, at *9 (S.D.Tex. Aug. 19, 2010), aff'd, 665 F.3d 647 (5th Cir.2011); see also AAIDD 2010 Manual at 7 (the three elements are each " essential" ).

The third prong— onset before the age of eighteen— bears clarification because it is essentially a prerequisite to satisfying the first two prongs. To be mentally retarded, both an individual's significantly subaverage intellectual functioning and his significant deficits in adaptive behavioral skills must become manifest before the age of 18.[7] See Blue, 2010 WL 8742423, at *9 (definition requires " (1) substantial limitations in intellectual functioning; (2) significant limitations in adaptive area skills; and (3) manifestation of those limitations before age 18" (emphasis added)); see also Atkins, 536 U.S. at 318, 122 S.Ct. 2242 (" [C]linical definitions require not only subaverage intellectual functioning, but also significant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction that became manifest before age 18." (emphasis added)). Moreover, in deciding an Atkins claim, the court must determine whether the defendant " was mentally retarded at the time of the crime. " Hardy, 762 F.Supp.2d at 881 (emphasis added); see also Holladay v. Allen, 555 F.3d 1346, 1353 (11th Cir.2009) (" Though the factors state that the problems had to have manifested themselves before the defendant reached the age of eighteen, it is implicit that the problems also existed at the time of the crime." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Thus, mental retardation must " be diagnosed, if it is to be diagnosed at all, retrospectively in every sense of the word." Hardy, 762 F.Supp.2d at 881.

C. Additional Legal Principles

As noted above, clinical definitions of mental retardation do not provide the full picture for an Atkins case. Two important general legal principles govern the court's analysis.

First, whether an individual is mentally retarded " is a question of fact, and not a mixed question of law and fact." Clark, 457 F.3d at 444; see also Ortiz, 664 F.3d at 1164; Walker v. Kelly, 593 F.3d 319, 323 (4th Cir.2010). The standard for whether someone is mentally retarded and ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment and FDPA is a legal matter (as discussed above), but " the ultimate issue of whether [Wilson] is, in fact, mentally retarded" is for the court to decide as a factual matter, " based upon all of the evidence and determinations of credibility." In re Briseno, 135 S.W.3d 1, 9 (Tex.Crim.App.2004).

Second, the court must decide the burden of proof for Atkins /FDPA claims. Although neither Atkins nor the FDPA addresses this issue, the vast majority of courts to address it have held that the defendant bears the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. See, e.g.,

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Northington II, 2012 WL 4024944, at *3; Smith, 790 F.Supp.2d at 484; Bourgeois, 2011 WL 1930684, at *46; Lewis, 2010 WL 5418901, at *4; Hardy, 762 F.Supp.2d at 851; Davis, 611 F.Supp.2d at 474; Thomas v. Allen, 614 F.Supp.2d 1257, 1296 (N.D.Ala.2009); Nelson, 419 F.Supp.2d at 894. But see, e.g., People v. Vasquez, 84 P.3d 1019, 1023 (Colo.2004) (upholding a Colorado statute requiring proof by the defendant by clear and convincing evidence); Head v. Hill, 277 Ga. 255, 261, 587 S.E.2d 613 (2003) (upholding a Georgia statute requiring proof by the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt).[8] This is also the standard set forth in New York's capital statute. See C.P.L. § 400.27(12)(a) (" [T]he defendant has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is mentally retarded." ). Both parties agree that this burden applies here ( see Def. Mem. at 1; Gov't Mem. at 49), and the court finds no compelling reason to apply a more stringent burden of proof. It therefore adheres to the majority and New York position: Wilson will have the burden of proving that he is more likely than not mentally retarded.

* * * * * *

In sum, both the FDPA and the Eighth Amendment forbid the court from imposing a death sentence upon a person who is mentally retarded. A person is mentally retarded only if he satisfies three necessary requirements: (1) significantly subaverage intellectual functioning; (2) significant deficits in adaptive behavioral skills; and (3) onset of those limitations before the age of 18. In developing the nuances of these requirements, the court will rely heavily upon modern clinical definitions of mental retardation, particularly those of the APA and the AAIDD. At the same time, the definition of mental retardation is ultimately a legal matter, and so the court may— and will— exercise its own judgment as to the appropriate definition of mental retardation in the Atkins /FDPA context. Once the court expounds upon the legal definition of mental retardation, it must decide as a factual matter whether Wilson himself is mentally retarded, an issue on which Wilson bears the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

III. INTELLECTUAL FUNCTIONING

With these principles in mind, the court turns to the first prong of the mental retardation definition: significantly subaverage intellectual functioning. The court will begin by discussing intellectual functioning generally, with a focus on some of the especially difficult and disputed issues involved in analyzing it. ( See Part III.A.) Resolution of these issues will then guide the court's analysis of Wilson's own intellectual functioning. ( See Part III.B.)

A. Intellectual Functioning in General

The AAIDD has stated that " intellectual functioning is currently best conceptualized and captured by a general factor of intelligence," and defines " intelligence" as " a general mental ability" that " includes reasoning, planning, solving problems, thinking abstractly, comprehending complex ideas, learning quickly, and learning from experience." AAIDD 2010 Manual at 31. Intellectual ...


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