Thursday, January 26, 2012

OK for Oklahoma to Increase Capital Defendant's Burden of Proving Mental Retardation

Ochoa v. Workman, 2012 WL 130718 (Okl.) (Published) - In this Oklahoma capital case, it was not unreasonable for Oklahoma courts to approve the district court's instruction to the jury that it must determine whether the petitioner is currently mentally retarded, rather than was mentally retarded at the time of the offense. It was reasonable for the state to consider mental retardation to be a static concept. As such, the petitioner had a harder time proving his retardation because his IQ improved over time. The petitioner's Atkins procedural issues meet the stringent successive petition standards because they were based on Atkins, which was decided after he filed his first habeas petition. But the petitioner loses on the merits. He voluntarily chose to appear before the jury in prison garb. There was no evidence the jury saw the shock sleeve attached to the petitioner. It was not prejudicial enough that the jury heard the defendant had been convicted of some undisclosed type of crime.