Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ledford: death penalty can imposed despite "Flynn effect" on IQ test score

In Ledford v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison, No. 14-15650 (March 21, 2016), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Georgia inmate sentenced to death for a 1992 murder. The Court rejected the argument that the “Flynn effect,” which observes that IQ test scores have been rising steadily for 20 years, did not invalidate the district court’s rejection of Ledford’s argument that his IQ of 77-79 made him mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty. The Court agreed with the district court that the “range” of Ledford’s IQ could be as high 80. Further, a district court is not required to accept and apply the Flynn effect. There is no medical consensus about the Flynn effect. The Supreme Court has not indicated how the Flynn effect should be factored into the IQ analysis.