intellectual disabilities Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refuses to exempt Bobby Moore from the death penalty

Despite a groundswell of support from a broad coalition, as well as an acknowledgment of Bobby Moore’s intellectual disability by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled last week that Moore should not be exempt from the death penalty.

In March 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (“CCA”) that Bobby James Moore is not intellectually disabled.  The Justices sent the case back to the CCA for further proceedings.

Mr. Moore’s claim that he is intellectually disabled based on current medical standards – and therefore exempt from the death penalty – received support from a broad coalition, including religious organizations and faith leaders, prominent Texans from across the political spectrum, intellectual disability organizations, medical organizations, and leaders of the legal profession.

The brief filed by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office with the CCA even acknowledged Mr. Moore’s intellectually disabilities and asked the court to resentence him to life in prison.

Despite this groundswell of support, as well as an earlier determination of intellectual disability by Harris County District Court Judge Susan Brown, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled against Mr. Moore last week, on June 6, 2018:

“After reviewing the case under the standards set forth in the DSM-5, we conclude that Applicant has failed to show adaptive deficits sufficient to support a diagnosis of intellectual disability,” five judges wrote in a majority opinion. “Consequently, we deny relief.”

In a scathing dissent, Judge Elsa Alcala identified her five colleagues as the only outliers among those who have concluded that Mr. Moore is ineligible for execution due to his intellectual disability.  She writes that “unfortunately for applicant, at this juncture, it is the only one that matters.”

You can read a statement in response to the court’s opinion from Mr. Moore’s attorney, Cliff Sloan, as well as a response from The Arc.

Coverage of the court’s ruling can be found at the following links: