Breaking news from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: The Fifth Circuit has just stayed tonight’s scheduled execution of Robert Campbell. The court’s order is here.
Robert C. Owen, one of Mr. Campbell’s attorneys, issued the following statement:
“Today the Fifth Circuit has ruled that Texas may not proceed with the scheduled execution of Robert Campbell, a man whose lifelong mental retardation was not proven until new evidence, long hidden by prosecutors and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, very recently came to light.
“The Fifth Circuit’s decision today creates an opportunity for Texas to rise above its past mistakes and seek a resolution of this matter that will better serve the interests of all parties and the public. Mr. Campbell has been fully evaluated by a highly qualified psychologist – a member of the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists, appointed to that post by Gov. Rick Perry – who confirms he is a person with mental retardation.
“Therefore, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, he is ineligible for the death penalty. Given the state’s own role in creating the regrettable circumstances that led to the Fifth Circuit’s decision today, the time is right for the state of Texas to let go of its efforts to execute Mr. Campbell and resolve this case by reducing his sentence to life imprisonment. State officials should choose the path of resolution rather than pursuing months or years of further proceedings.”
by Peter V. Berns and Amy Mizcles, The Arc
The Arc, which advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, just delivered this letter to Texas Gov. Perry:
Date: May 12, 2014
To: Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Clemency Section, 8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78757
Re: Executive clemency, commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment for Robert Campbell
Dear Gov. Perry, Chairman Owens and board members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles:
We write on behalf of The Arc of the United States to urge that, on the basis of his intellectual disability (ID), the death sentence of Robert Campbell be commuted to life without possibility of parole.
In its 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the special risk of wrongful execution faced by persons with ID (formerly termed “mental retardation”) and banned the execution of persons with ID as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. See 536 U.S. 304.
News reports indicate that Mr. Campbell has been found by a highly qualified psychologist to have a diagnosis of intellectual disability with an IQ of 69. Additional evidence suggests the state of Texas and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice withheld two prior IQ tests showing an IQ of 68 from a test during elementary school and 71 from his prison records.
We note Judge Alcala’s statement in her dissenting opinion: “It now falls to the federal courts and Gov. Perry to ensure that Mr. Campbell, a person with mental retardation, will not be executed as a result of this disturbing violation by state officials of his most basic due process rights.”
The actions of state officials have created a gross miscarriage of justice regarding counsel’s efforts to appeal Mr. Campbell’s sentence. The Arc is committed to seeking lawful outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities and will continue working to ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this issue is abided by in jurisdictions across the country.
In its 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the special risk of wrongful execution faced by persons with ID (formerly termed “mental retardation”) and banned the execution of persons with ID as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
The Arc is a non-profit organization which, for over 60 years, has dedicated itself to altering perceptions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to the education of the public about the true potential of persons with this diagnosis. Over the decades, The Arc has advocated for the passage of state and federal legislation on behalf of people with disabilities and established a broad network of state and local chapters that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the country.
In addition to our longstanding interest in actively seeking justice in death penalty cases involving individuals with intellectual disabilities, The Arc of the United States recently received a grant from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to start The National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (NCCJD). Backed by the knowledge of dedicated criminal justice professionals, we urge you to prevent a miscarriage of justice and commute the death sentence of Robert Campbell to life imprisonment.
Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc of the United States
Amy Mizcles, LMSW, Executive Director, The Arc of Texas