Schriro v. Smith

PETITIONER: Dora B. Schriro, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections
RESPONDENT: Robert Douglas Smith
LOCATION: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 04-1475
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2005-2006)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 546 US 6 (2005)
DECIDED: Oct 17, 2005
GRANTED: Oct 17, 2005

Facts of the case

In 1982, Robert Douglas Smith was sentenced to death for murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault in an Arizona state court. Smith filed a petition for a writ of federal habeas corpus in district court that was denied. After the Supreme Court decided Atkins v. Virginia, which stated that a mentally retarded person cannot be executed, Smith appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and argued that he was mentally retarded and therefore could not be executed. The appellate court held that the issue of whether or not Smith was mentally retarded had to be decided by a jury.

Question

Does the mental retardation claim of a capital defendant have to be resolved by a jury trial?