Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle published an editorial calling for a review of the cases involving death row inmates who were evaluated for evidence of mental retardation by psychologist Dr. George Denkowski (“Fatal Errors,” May 7, 2011). Last month, the state Board of Examiners of Psychologists reprimanded Denkowski for his unproven and unscientific methods and banned him from conducting future evaluations.
Yet according to the Chronicle, “… while Denkowski has been discredited and barred from testifying in such cases ever again, the men he has succeeded in keeping on death row — many of whose appeals have been on hold – could be procedurally barred from pursuing appeals unless legislative action is taken.”
A follow-up article by Mike Tolson (“Retardation issue set for 2nd round in courts,” May 9, 2011, Houston Chronicle), addresses the situation in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court banned the application of the death penalty to persons with mental retardation (Atkins v. Virginia, 2002). Tolson notes that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office “already is revisiting its eight cases in which Denkowski concluded that the defendant was not mentally retarded. Four others were reversed recently for other reasons.”