Target: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
Goal: Remove Warren Hill from death row
Warren Hill, an intellectually disabled man charged with murder, recently came within an hour of being executed. He was spared by last-minute evidence revealing that he was disabled to the extent that his execution would be unconstitutional. Although any other state would have regarded the initial finding of his mental retardation enough to excuse him from death row, Georgia is the sole state which requires evidence of mental disability “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
While Warren was excused from execution at the last moment due to expert testimonies stating that his execution would be unconstitutional even in Georgia, according to Georgia’s 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Hill cannot resubmit his case for consideration because of procedural blocks. This is not only unjust, but also unconstitutional; Georgia must excuse Hill from death row.
The Supreme Court ruled that the execution of the mentally retarded is unconstitutional in 2002, but how a state chooses to determine one’s intellectual disability is the state’s decision. Since currently seven different experts have determined Hill is mentally retarded, Hill’s lawyers have tried to go back and prove that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement has been satisfied. However, while his execution scheduled in February this year was stayed, a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that due to procedural reasons, Hill’s case cannot be reconsidered. These reasons include the fact that his mental disability was already brought up in his initial trial, and that he is only contesting his being put on death row and not his actual guilt.
While this congressional act limiting appeals is frightening in its own right, the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that those with mental retardation cannot be executed overrides the 1990’s appeals legislation and thus makes Hill’s execution unconstitutional. By signing the petition below you will help urge the state of Georgia to acknowledge the Supreme Court’s 2002 decision and remove Warren Hill from death row.
Dear Governor Deal,
The decision of the Georgia 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to ban Warren Hill from submitting his case for reconsideration due to procedural reasons is unacceptable and unconstitutional. Hill must be removed from death row as he is constitutionally guaranteed.
In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute those with “mental retardation”; while in the state of Georgia this must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, Hill’s mental retardation has been verified by seven separate specialists. The fact that he is being denied the chance to prove so due to legislation bent on limiting appeals from the 1990’s is unjust, particularly since the 2002 Supreme Court decision overrides any conflicting legislation from earlier dates. Please take action to remove Hill from death row and grant him the constitutional protections guaranteed to him by the Supreme Court.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DoNotLick via Flickr