execution intellectual disabilities Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Narrowly Dismisses Robert Campbell Appeal

This afternoon, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Robert Campbell’s application for post-conviction relief by the narrowest of margins – a vote of 5 to 4.  The appeal raised important claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and evidence of intellectual disability. Campbell is scheduled to be executed next Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  Below is a statement from Campbell’s attorneys regarding today’s decision from the state’s highest criminal court.

Statement from attorneys for Robert Campbell regarding the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision this afternoon to dismiss Mr. Campbell’s application for post-conviction relief

“We are deeply disappointed that a majority of the Court chose to wash its hands of its responsibility for Mr. Campbell’s fate.  The CCA’s decision today refuses any remedy for the abysmal performance of an attorney the CCA itself appointed.  That outcome mocks the Legislature’s promise that every condemned prisoner will have one full and fair opportunity for post-conviction review.  It is now likely that there will never be any meaningful examination of whether Mr. Campbell received effective legal assistance at trial.

“More gravely troubling, however, is the majority’s refusal to require a hearing on the urgent question of whether Mr. Campbell has mental retardation, and thus may not legally be executed at all.  Every piece of substantial evidence supports that diagnosis, and a comprehensive evaluation by a highly qualified psychologist has now confirmed it. Judge Alcala, in her powerful dissenting opinion today, correctly called the evidence of Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation ‘compelling.’  And she zeroed in on the fundamental unfairness of today’s decision – the reason why this evidence was not available in 2003, when the CCA first turned away Mr. Campbell’s mental retardation claim. Namely, State officials affirmatively misled Mr. Campbell’s lawyers when they told him they had no records of IQ testing of Mr. Campbell from his time on Death Row.  That was a lie.  They had such test results, and they placed Mr. Campbell squarely in the range for a diagnosis of mental retardation.  As Judge Alcala puts it, ‘It would be unjust to penalize [Mr. Campbell] for not uncovering such a falsehood previously, when he had no basis to believe that a falsehood had been conveyed to him. . . . This Court should not base its decisions that determine whether a person will live or be executed based on misinformation or wholly inadequate information.’

“It now falls to the federal courts and Governor Perry to ensure that Mr. Campbell, a person with mental retardation, will not be executed as a result of this disturbing violation by State officials of his most basic due process rights.”

May 8, 2014

– Attorney Robert C. Owen, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law

– Attorney Raoul D. Schonemann, Capital Punishment Clinic, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law


To arrange an interview with attorney Robert Owen, please contact Kristin Houle at 512-441-1808 (office), 512-552-5948 (cell) or

Read coverage of the court’s decision from the Austin American-Statesman.