Hall v Florida: Supreme Court Arguments Released To Public

U.S. High Court Releases Audio Of Death Penalty Case In Regular Weekly Update

The United States Supreme Court makes available the audio and the transcripts of arguments held before the court, provided during a weekly transcription update on the Supreme Court’s government website, supremecourt.gov.

U.S. Supreme Court

Listen to the full audio recording of the Supreme Court hearing in Hall v. Florida

As first written on the BDKPA news section last week, the justices of the high court heard arguments Monday, March 3 in the case of Hall v. Florida, where the justices were asked to refine their 2002 landmark decision, in Atkins v. Virginia, in which the court ruled that a person who is found to be mentally retarded can not be put to death. The justices’ decision was that such a sentence in capital cases violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

In Florida, the case had been argued before the State’s highest court by Eric Pinkard, who challenged the Florida’s so-called ‘bright line’ cutoff for mental retardation. Mr. Pinkard had argued that Freddie Lee Hall, who had been found mentally retarded long before the 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, remained so, even though the state of Florida had adopted a cutoff Intelligence Quotient of 70 as the upper limit for mental retardation.  His challenge to the state law failed on a split decision, which resulted in the case going to the United States Supreme Court.

Seth Waxman
Seth Waxman

Mr. Pinkard secured the aid of Washington, D.C. attorney Seth Waxman, who argued before the justices March 3. Mr. Waxman began his arguments by explaining the Florida law did not take into account what is known as the ‘standard error of measurement’ in testing, a model that applies to IQ tests, among others. Mr. Waxman further observed for the justices that Florida’s ‘bright-line’ cutoff does seem to make provisions for any of the other criteria required by Atkins v. Virginia.

The hearing lasted approximately one hour. There is no word from the court of when a ruling may be issued.

In addition to being presented here, the audio and transcript may be heard and viewed on the Supreme Court’s transcription page entry for the Hall v. Florida case.