DIVIDED EN BANC FOURTH CIRCUIT REFUSES HABEAS CLAIM BASED ON MENTAL RETARDATION
On Thursday, March 9, a sharply divided Fourth Circuit issues an en banc decision affirming the denial of a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of a man who claimed to have been mentally retarded. Thursday’s decision is in Walton v. Johnson, Director. The decision rejects the petitioner’s claim based on the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Atkins v. Virginia , in which the execution of mentally retarded defendants was ruled unconstitutional.
The decision is split as finely as possible on the court; seven judges form the majority, authored by Judge Shedd, while a dissent, led by Chief Judge Wilkins, includes six signatures.