EX PARTE Taurus Jermaine CARROLL In re Taurus Jermaine Carroll,
State of Alabama.
Denied September 20, 2019.
FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS St.
Clair Circuit Court, CC-09-242; Court of Criminal Appeals,
K. Richardson of Pruitt & Richardson, P.C., Pell City,
Marshall, atty. gen., and Beth Jackson Hughes, asst. atty.
gen., for respondent.
Jermaine Carroll was convicted in the St. Clair Circuit Court
of one count of murder for intentionally causing the death of
Michael Turner, a fellow inmate, after having been convicted
of another murder within the preceding 20 years, see §
13A-5-40(a)(13), Ala. Code 1975, and a second count of murder
made capital for committing murder while Carroll was under a
sentence of life imprisonment, see § 13A-5-40(a)(6),
Ala. Code 1975.
he was sentenced, Carroll argued to the circuit court that he
is intellectually disabled and therefore, under Atkins v.
Virginia, 536 U.S. 304');">536 U.S. 304, 122 S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335
(2002), ineligible to be sentenced to death. The circuit
court rejected that argument and, following the jury's
unanimous recommendation, sentenced Carroll to death for each
capital-murder conviction. The Court of Criminal Appeals
affirmed Carroll's convictions and sentences. Carroll
v. State, 215 So.3d 1135 (Ala.Crim.App. 2016)
("Carroll I"). This Court denied
Carroll's petition for a writ of certiorari.
1, 2017, the United States Supreme Court granted
Carroll's petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the
judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and remanded the
cause to that court "for further consideration in light
of Moore v. Texas, 581 U.S. ___[, 137 S.Ct.
1039][197 L.Ed.2d 416](2017)." 581 U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct.
2093, 197 L.Ed.2d893(2017). On remand, the Court of Criminal
Appeals again affirmed Carroll's convictions and
sentences. Carroll v. State, [Ms. CR-12-0599, Dec.
15, 2017] ___ So.3d ___ (Ala. Crim. App. 2017)
("Carroll II"). We granted Carroll's
petition for a writ of certiorari.
disability must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence,
and the trial court's determination is entitled to
deference on appeal. Ex parte Lane, 286 So.3d 61,
___ (Ala. 2018) (citing Ex parte Smith, 213 So.3d
313, 319 (Ala. 2010)). A trial judge exceeds his or her
discretion when there is no evidence on which the judge could
have rationally based his or her decision regarding the
defendant's intellectual disability. Ex parte
Lane, 286 So.3d at ___.
LAW ON INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY
The Developing Law post Atkins
asserts that the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision
conflicts with the United States Supreme Court decisions in
Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304');">536 U.S. 304, 122 S.Ct. 2242,
153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002); Hall v. Florida, 572 U.S.
701, 134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986, 188 L.Ed.2d 1007 (2014); Brumfield
v. Cain, 576 U.S. 305, ___, 135 S.Ct. 2269, 2278-79,
192, L.Ed.2d 356 (2015); and Moore v. Texas, 581
U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct. 1039, 197 L.Ed.2d 416 (2017).
Moore v. Texas, the United States Supreme Court
summarized the law on intellectual disability:
"The Eighth Amendment prohibits `cruel and unusual
punishments,' and `reaffirms the duty of the government
to respect the dignity of all persons,' Hall [v.
Florida], 572 U.S.  at 708 [134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986, 188
L.Ed.2d 1007 (2014)](quoting Roper v. Simmons, 543
U.S. 551, 560[125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1](2005)). `To
enforce the Constitution's protection of human
dignity,' we `loo[k] to the evolving standards of
decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,'
recognizing that `[t]he Eighth Amendment is not fastened to
the obsolete.' Hall, 572 U.S. at 708[134 S.Ct.
1986] (internal quotation marks omitted).
"In Atkins v. Virginia, [536 U.S. 304');">536 U.S. 304, 122
S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2006),] we held that the
Constitution `restrict[s]... the State's power to take
the life of any intellectually disabled
individual. 536 U.S. at 321[122 S.Ct. 2242]. See also
Hall, 572 U.S. at 707-710[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986];
Roper, 543 U.S. at 563-564[125 S.Ct. 1183].
Executing intellectually disabled individuals, we concluded
in Atkins, serves no penological purpose, see 536
U.S. at 318-320[122 S.Ct. 2242]; runs up against a national
consensus against the practice, see id., at
313-317[122 S.Ct. 2242]; and creates a `risk that the death
penalty will be imposed in spite of factors which may call
for a less severe penalty,' id., at 320[122
S.Ct. 2242] (internal quotation marks omitted); see
id., at 320-321[122 S.Ct. 2242].
"In Hall v. Florida, we held that a State
cannot refuse to entertain other evidence of intellectual
disability when a defendant has an IQ score above 70. 572
U.S. at 721-724[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986]. Although Atkins
and Hall left to the States `the task of
developing appropriate ways to enforce' the restriction
on executing the intellectually disabled, 572 U.S., at
719[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986] (quoting Atkins, 536 U.S. at
317[122 S.Ct. 2242], States' discretion, we cautioned,
is not `unfettered,' 572 U.S. at 719[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986].
Even if `the views of medical experts' do not
`dictate' a court's intellectual-disability
determination, id., at 721[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986], we
clarified, the determination must be `informed by the
medical community's diagnostic framework,'
id., at 721[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986]. We relied on the most
recent (and still current) versions
of the leading diagnostic manuals — the DSM-5 and
AAIDD-11. Id., at 705, 710, 712, 722-723[134 S.Ct.
1986]. Florida, we concluded, had violated the Eighth
Amendment by `disregard[ing] established medical
practice.' Id., at 712[134 S.Ct. 1986');">134 S.Ct. 1986]. We
further noted that Florida had parted ways with practices
and trends in other States. Id., at 712-718[134
S.Ct. 1986]. Hall indicated that being informed by
the medical community does not demand adherence to
everything stated in the latest medical guide. But neither
does our precedent license disregard of current medical
581 U.S. at ___, 137 S.Ct. at 1048-49.
it is unconstitutional to impose a death sentence upon a
defendant with an intellectual disability. Moore,
581 U.S. at ___, 137 S.Ct. at 1048; Atkins, 536 U.S.
at 321, 122 S.Ct. 2242. Therefore, in the Atkins
context, when considering whether Carroll is intellectually
disabled, the Court must consider whether the evidence
established that: (1) Carroll has significant subaverage
intellectual functioning and (2) significant or substantial
deficits in adaptive functioning; and (3) these problems
manifested themselves before the age of 18. See Smith v.
State, 213 So.3d 239 (Ala. 2007) (citing Ex parte
Perkins, 851 So.2d 453, 455-56 (Ala. 2002)).
undisputed that Carroll's IQ score of 71, adjusted for
the standard of measurement, yields a range of 66 to 76.
Indeed, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that lower end of
Carroll's score range falls at or below 70. Carroll
II, ___ So.3d at ___. Thus, there is no dispute that
Carroll has "subaverage intellectual functioning."
Rather, the dispute in this case centers around whether
Carroll has significant or substantial deficits in adaptive
functioning that manifested themselves before the age of 18.
The Specific Components ofMoore v. Texas
United States Supreme Court remanded Carroll's case to
the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals for further
consideration in light of Moore v. Texas, supra. In
Moore, the United States Supreme Court reversed a
decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which had
determined that the defendant was not intellectually disabled
for purposes of imposing the death penalty.
Supreme Court found several flaws in the Texas Court of
Criminal Appeals' analysis. First, the Supreme Court
found that the Texas court violated Hall by
disregarding the defendant's lower IQ scores and failing
to consider "the standard error of measurement."
Moore, 581 U.S. at ___, 137 S.Ct. at 1049. Next, the
Supreme Court found that the Texas court had improperly
"overemphasized [the defendant's] perceived adaptive
strengths." 581 U.S. at ___, 137 S.Ct. at 1050. For
example, the Texas court determined that facts establishing
that the defendant had "lived on the streets, mowed
lawns, and played pool for money" outweighed the fact
that he suffered from adaptive deficits in other areas, such
as a lack of understanding of the days of the week, the
months of the year, and the seasons, and a limited ability to
tell time, read, or do basic arithmetic. The Supreme Court
held that the medical community "focuses the adaptive
functioning inquiry on adaptive deficits," not
strengths. 581 U.S. at ___, 137 S.Ct. at 1050.
Supreme Court also criticized the Texas court for its
emphasis on Moore's improved behavior in prison.
"Clinicians ... caution against reliance on adaptive
strengths developed `in a controlled setting,' as a
prison surely is.
DSM-5,[ ] at 38 (`Adaptive functioning may
be difficult to assess in a controlled setting (e.g.,
prisons, detention centers); if possible, corroborative
information reflecting functioning outside those settings
should be obtained.'); see AAIDD-11[ ]
User's Guide 20 (counseling against reliance on
`behavior in jail or prison')."
581 U.S. at ___, 137 S.Ct. at 1050.
Moore, the Supreme Court also discussed whether
states may define intellectual disability in a manner that is
(1) uninformed by the medical community or (2) based on
outdated medical standards. First, the Supreme Court rejected
the Texas court's use of the Ex parte Briseno,
135 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. Crim App. 2004), factors. In Ex parte
Briseno, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, following
Atkins, created a standard for determining
intellectual disability, in which the court set forth several
factors to determine whether the average Texas citizen would
agree that an individual should be protected from execution
because of an ...