Here’s a riddle: What do a death-row prisoner and a John Steinbeck novel have to do with one another? Answer: Nothing, unless the death-row prisoner is in Texas and has intellectual disability. Under Texas law, a defendant’s life may hinge on how closely his intellectual disability resembles that of the hulking, obviously disabled, farmhand Lennie Small from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. That’s because only in Texas will you find the “Lennie standard,” the set of criteria the state uses to determine that an individual has intellectual disability and is therefore exempt from facing the death penalty.
Whether Texas can execute Bobby Moore, based on the “Lennie standard,” is a question the U.S. Supreme Court will address in arguments it will hear on November 29. Read more