Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thomas v. Allen: Atkins Bars Execution of Mentally Retarded Offender

In Thomas v. Allen, No. 09-12869 (May 27, 2010), the Court affirmed the granting of habeas relief to an Alabama death row inmate based on a finding that he was mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for execution under Atkins v. Virginia.

The Court noted that Atkins is a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive to cases on collateral review, and therefore, contrary to the findings of the Alabama courts, could not be defaulted under state procedural rules.

Reviewing the numerous studies showing that Thomas’ IQ fell below the mental retardation threshold, and other evidence, the Court held that Alabama courts unreasonably applied Atkins when they found Thomas was not mentally retarded.