June 01, 2009

United States District Court vacates death sentence for Kenneth Thomas

On April 21, 2009, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama vacated the death sentence for petitioner Kenneth Glenn Thomas. After a 126-page opinion concluded that Mr. Thomas was mentally retarded, the court ordered that he receive a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  In December of 1984, Mr. Thomas was convicted of murder and was sent to death row in Holman Prison, Alabama. He lost all of his appeals, but when the US Supreme Court decided Atkins, Mr. Thomas’s attorneys immediately filed a brief stating that he was mentally retarded and should not be executed.  Judge Lynwood Smith’s opinion presents a comprehensive discussion of mental retardation, including the Flynn effect, which requires that an IQ score be reduced by 0.3 points for each year following the publication of the test. Jerome T. Wolf, Barrett Vahle, and a team of other volunteer lawyers at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal are to be commended for their outstanding work on behalf of Mr. Thomas.