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Brumfield v. Cain

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 8, 2014

Kevan BRUMFIELD, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Burl CAIN, Warden, Louisiana State Penitentiary, Respondent-Appellant.

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Nicholas Joseph Trenticosta, Esq., Attorney, New Orleans, LA, for Petitioner-Appellee.

Monisa Leola Thompson, Premila Bums, Assistant District Attorney, District Attorney's Office, Baton Rouge, LA, for Respondent-Appellant.

Before STEWART, Chief Judge, and KING and CLEMENT, Circuit Judges.

CARL E. STEWART, Chief Judge:

The State of Louisiana appeals the district court's imposition of a permanent injunction, enjoining the State from executing Petitioner-Appellee Kevan Brumfield. The district court granted habeas relief in favor of Brumfield, finding that he is mentally retarded [1] and therefore ineligible for execution based on Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 122 S.Ct. 2242, 153 L.Ed.2d 335 (2002). For the reasons stated herein, we REVERSE the district court's judgment.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Trial and Direct Appeal

In 1995, a jury convicted Brumfield of the first degree murder of a Baton Rouge police officer— Corporal Betty Smothers— and sentenced him to death. The Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. State v. Brumfield, 737 So.2d 660 (La.1998). He appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but it denied his petition for a writ of certiorari. Brumfield v. Louisiana, 526 U.S. 1025, 119 S.Ct. 1267, 143 L.Ed.2d 362 (1999).

B. State Post-Conviction Proceedings

In 2000, Brumfield filed for post-conviction relief in Louisiana state court alleging, inter alia, that he was ineligible for execution due to insanity. In his petition, he also requested funds to further develop his claims. Before the state court considered Brumfield's petition, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Atkins, which prohibited the execution of mentally retarded criminals. Brumfield then amended his state petition to assert an Atkins claim and that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his mental retardation claim. As evidence of his claim, Brumfield provided the following: 1) his IQ score, obtained prior to trial, of 75; 2) his slow progress in school; [2] 3) his premature birth; [3] 4) his

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treatment at multiple psychiatric hospitals; 5) various medications he was prescribed; and 6) testimony that he exhibited slower responses than normal babies, suffered from seizures,[4] and was hospitalized for months after his birth. In the petition, Brumfield again requested funds to develop his claims.

On October 23, 2003, the state trial court conducted a hearing on Brumfield's pending petition. At the hearing, the trial court denied Brumfield's petition in its entirety and stated as to the Atkins claim:

I guess the biggest [issue] we need to address is the claims of mental retardation and Atkins and whether or not the defendant is entitled to a hearing to determine that issue, and I've read the cases that were cited and also both sides' arguments, and even in Atkins it is clear that ...

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