Continuing to address the morality and constitutionality of executing mentally deficient offenders, the United States Supreme Court in Tennard v. Dretke held that the Texas jury instructions used during the sentencing phase violated the Eighth Amendment. The jury instructions were unconstitutional because they did not provide sentencers with an adequate vehicle for assessing the defendant's mitigating evidence of low Intelligence Quotient. This case has broad implications for jury instructions in capital cases across the nation. It also raises concerns that valid claims by deserving defendants will be lost in a sea of frivolous claims and unidentified intelligence tests.
Starnes, Kristin L.
"Uncertain Waters: Tennard v. Dretke Provides Swells of Protection for the Mentally Deficient But May Cause Rising Tides of Frivolous Claims,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 56:
4, Article 21.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol56/iss4/21