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High court looks at death row inmate with low IQ

By MARK SHERMAN

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A Floridian with an IQ as high as 75 may be diagnosed as mentally disabled and be eligible for help getting a job. But on death row, the state says having an IQ higher than 70 categorically means an inmate is not mentally disabled and may be executed.

The Supreme Court barred states from executing mentally disabled inmates in 2002, but until now has left the determination of who is mentally disabled to the states.

In arguments Monday, 68-year-old Florida inmate Freddie Lee Hall is challenging the state's use of a rigid IQ cutoff to determine mental disability.

Florida is among a few states that use a score of 70, as measured by IQ tests, as the threshold for concluding an inmate is not mentally disabled, even when other evidence indicates he is."Simply put, IQ tests are not a perfect measure of a person's intellectual ability," Hall's lawyers told the court in written arguments.

A judge in an earlier phase of the case concluded Hall "had been mentally retarded his entire life."

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