In 2002, the Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia announced that executing mentally retarded defendants violates the Constitution. Georgia's standard for determining whether a criminal defendant is mentally retarded-and therefore ineligible for the death penalty- is the highest in the nation, requiring defendants to prove mental retardation to a jury, during the guilt and innocence phase, beyond a reasonable doubt. As in the case of Warren Lee Hill, Jr., this high burden necessarily results in Georgia executing defendants who are almost certainly mentally retarded,arguably violating the Atkins directive. Though once the first state to create a ban on executing the mentally retarded (predating even the Atkins ruling), Georgia now employs a standard of proof that falls far outside the bounds of every other state's implementation of Atkins, and one that this Note argues is unconstitutional itself.
O'Grady, Veronica M.
"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: The Constitutionality of Georgia's Burden of Proof in Executing the Mentally Retarded,"
Georgia Law Review: Vol. 48:
4, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/glr/vol48/iss4/6