After the governor’s signing of the new law, Pervis Payne, a death row inmate with convincing evidence of innocence, files a motion to see his intellectual disability claim
Faith, Civil Rights, Justice, and Legislative leaders urge DA Weirich to agree that Mr. Payne is a person with intellectual disabilities
(Memphis, Tennessee, May 12, 2021) After Governor Lee signed largely bipartisan legislation to fill a loophole in Tennessee law that prevented people with intellectual disabilities from making claims that their execution was governed by the constitutions of Tennessee and the US, Pervis attorneys, banned Payne today petitioned the new trial in Shelby County’s Criminal Court. The petition states that as a person with an undisputed diagnosis of intellectual disability, Mr Payne is categorically banned from execution. The state has never denied or contested that Mr. Payne is a person with intellectual disabilities and neurocognitive impairment. The petition states: “Pervis Payne is undeniably mentally handicapped. Mr. Payne meets all three of the Atkins requirements, as well as those of the Tennessee Statute. He has a significantly below average intellectual functioning, significant deficits in adaptation in every area and his disability manifested itself before the age of 18. “(P. 5)
Heads of State urge DA Amy Weirich to determine that Pervis Payne is a person with intellectual disabilities
“The motto on the Shelby County’s District Attorney’s website is, ‘Doing the right thing every day for the right reason. ‘Now it is time to do the right thing. DA Weirich should join the Memphis community – their constituents – and agree that Pervis Payne is a person with intellectual disabilities. As such, his execution would be unconstitutional, ”said Rep. GA Hardaway, who promoted the state’s intellectual disability law modernization act.
“We ask you, DA Weirich, to state – and not deny – that Mr. Payne is a person with an intellectual disability. We invite prosecutors to join the moral arc bender army to steer the moral arc of the universe towards justice, ”added Rep. Hardaway.
“Mr. Payne has been unjustly on death row for 33 years. The state has never questioned the fact that he is a person with intellectual disabilities. DA Weirich should not start now. Litigation over this undisputed fact would be an amazing time – and wasted taxes, “said Bishop David Allen Hall, Sr., pastor of the Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis.” DA Weirich shouldn’t be fighting the unassailable truth: Mr. Payne has a clear diagnosis of mental retardation He should be removed from death row immediately, ”said Bishop Jeffrey Leath, Bishop of the AME Church, 13th District, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Pervis Payne is an undisputed intellectual disability
Training materials, expert results and tests carried out confirm the intellectual challenges of Mr. Payne. Recent research by Dr. Daniel Martell, an expert the state has relied on in its own cases, concluded that his IQ on the WAIS-IV scale is 72 with a functional score of 68.4. Overall, Mr. Payne’s diagnosis of intellectual disability meets the standards of the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the American Psychiatric Association.
In Atkins vs. Virginia, ruled in 2002, the US Supreme Court found that the execution of people with intellectual disabilities violated the prohibition of the Eighth Amendment to Cruel and Unusual Punishment. The court stated that people with intellectual disabilities are at “particular risk of unlawful execution” and recognized that mentally retarded defendants are often unable to assist their lawyers and give poor witnesses. These concerns played out in Mr. Payne’s case.
In 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court admitted that Mr. Payne presented undisputed evidence of an intellectual disability and that the state had “no interest” in executing a person with an intellectual disability. To date, there has been no trial in Tennessee to bring Mr. Payne’s intellectual disability lawsuit to court.
Widespread support for Mr. Payne, who has a strong claim to innocence
Mr Payne’s case has all the ingredients of an unlawful conviction and death sentence: he is a black man with an undisputed intellectual disability, accused of murdering a white woman in a county with a long history of biased criminal justice, and the state is it is unable to explain important missing evidence that might help prove its innocence.
More than 740,000 people have signed a petition in support of Mr. Payne. That number rises to a million. His case has attracted national and international attention with diverse and broad support from civil rights activists in Atlanta, Chicago, Martha’s Vineyard, and beyond. A powerful coalition of 150 faith, legal, legislative and community groups in Memphis and across the state of Tennessee has called on Governor Lee to grant mercy to Mr. Payne. Highly respected individuals and organizations across the political spectrum, including former US Circuit Judge and Attorney General Kenneth W. Starr, Martin Luther King III, and bestselling author “Just Mercy” Bryan Stevenson, have also called on the governor to grant mercy.
An incomplete list of people and organizations who have called on Governor Lee to grant mercy or have submitted letters in support of Pervis Payne can be found at https://tinyurl.com/r2ewybfx