Overall IQ Not Critical in California Capital Cases

The California Supreme Court has ruled that courts may weigh mental deficiencies in just one area when deciding whether to impose the death sentence on a defendant with a normal IQ.

The legal definition of retardation does not rely on a fixed IQ score, the unanimous court said. The decision will affect at least 28 death row prisoners, according to the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of the ruling.

The court ruled in the case of Jorge Junior Vidal. A defense psychologist said tests showed Vidal could put a puzzle together, but may not be able to understand verbal instructions on how to do so.

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