A federal appeals court will rule on whether Georgia sets too strict a standard for deciding whether death penalty defendants are mentally retarded, meaning they cannot be executed.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Tuesday to review a ruling by a three-judge panel that earlier found that Georgia's requirements are unconstitutional.
Georgia is the only state in the country that requires defendants to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are retarded. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof in the legal system.
In June, the panel ruled two-to-one that Georgia's rule increases the risk that a mentally retarded person could be executed. The court said this violated a ban on cruel and unusual punishment.