[This category contains cases concerning the
defendant's low intelligence and lack of education. Above average intelligence has been
held not mitigating. See State v. Kayer.]
State v. Arnett
(Arnett II), 125 Ariz. 201, 608 P.2d 778 (1980)
The trial judge noted the defendant's lack of education
hindered the defendant's ability to conform to society. This may have lead to his sexually
deviant behavior, prior conviction, and alcoholism, but was not sufficiently substantial
to call for leniency for this murder conviction. The Court agreed with this assessment.
State v. Bishop
(Bishop II), 127 Ariz. 531, 622 P.2d 478 (1981)
This mitigation was not of sufficient weight to justify
leniency. The defendant has a sixth grade education and is below average in intelligence.
Despite these handicaps, the defendant has functioned well in society. This was not a
factor in the murder.
State v. Ortiz,
131 Ariz. 195, 639 P.2d 1020 (1982)
The trial court found the defendant's intelligence as a
"possible" mitigating circumstance, but concluded that this factor, which might
ordinarily constitute a mitigating circumstance, was not because the court learned from
the trial and the testimony of the defendant's wife that he was "an adulterer, a
violent wife beater, and a liar." The defendant argued on appeal that the trial court
erred in not finding the mitigating circumstances proffered by the defendant. The Court
concluded, "whatever mitigation evidence appellant offered, it was not sufficiently
substantial to call for leniency."
Robert Smith, 138 Ariz. 79, 673 P.2d 17 (1983)
Although the statutory (G)(1) mitigating circumstance of
significant impairment was not established, the Court did "take notice" that
Smith had low intelligence - an I.Q. of seventy-one, or approximately at the second
percentile. After considering all the mitigation presented, the Court found the cumulative
mitigation "significant," but not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency
in light of the extreme cruelty and brutality of the crime.
State v. Hensley
(Hensley II), 142 Ariz. 598, 691 P.2d 689 (1984)
After noting that the trial court found it mitigating that
defendant had obtained a GED degree, the Court found that "the mitigation offered by
appellant is not sufficiently substantial to outweigh the aggravating circumstances."
Amaya-Ruiz, 166 Ariz. 152, 800 P.2d 1260 (1990)
The Court listed several mitigating circumstances,
including the defendant's limited intelligence and formal education, which the trial court
considered but found insufficient to call for leniency. With no further discussion, the
Court noted that these claims have been held insufficient to merit leniency in other
State v. Greenway,
170 Ariz. 155, 823 P.2d 22 (1991)
The defendant argued that his I.Q. of 72 made him mentally
retarded and unable to realize what he was doing. The Court disagreed. The defendant's
expert testified that the defendant was borderline functional, and not mentally retarded.
The expert stated that persons with an I.Q. of 72 can function in society and that the
defendant was able to make judgments with limited impairment. The defendant's former
manager indicated that the defendant was able to supervise other people, was a responsible
person, and handled problems without any irrational behavior. This was not a slow, dull,
retarded individual, but a person who planned two weeks in advance to rob the victims and
carried out his plan. The Court would not accept the defendant's argument that because he
lacked criminal sophistication and was inept at committing this crime that his sentence
should be reduced. The Court has never held that a court should look at the crime itself
to determine if it was carried out with criminal sophistication as part of the sentencing
process. The defendant's I.Q. was neither significant enough to quality as a mitigating
factor, nor sufficiently substantial to call for leniency. The Court distinguished Jimenez
because despite similar ages and I.Q. levels, that defendant also had hallucinations and
State v. West,
176 Ariz. 432, 862 P.2d 192 (1993)
The defendant argued that he had trouble in school,
possibly had a learning disability, and only completed nine years of education. In
reviewing this evidence, the Court found "no showing at all" that the defendant
did not know the difference between right and wrong or could not conform his conduct to
the dictates of the law in order to establish the (G)(1) statutory mitigating
circumstance. Nor did "the evidence on these subjects show any nonstatutory
State v. Ramirez,
178 Ariz. 116, 871 P.2d 237 (1994)
The defendant argued his poor educational experience in
mitigation. The Court noted that the trial court correctly found this to be a nonstatutory
mitigating factor, but did not discuss it.
State v. Maturana,
180 Ariz. 126, 882 P.2d 933 (1994)
The Court adopted the findings of the trial court that the
defendant failed to prove this nonstatutory mitigating circumstance. The defendant argued
that he had an average to low average I.Q. and only obtained a tenth grade education.
v. Roger and Robert Murray, 184 Ariz. 9, 906 P.2d 542 (1995)
Roger dropped out of high school, but he later received his
diploma and became a paralegal. The Court noted that "obviously, such accomplishments
did not prevent the terrible crimes in this case." It is unclear how much weight, if
any, the Court gave this evidence.
State v. Miller,
186 Ariz. 314, 921 P.2d 1151 (1996)
Miller argued that the trial court failed to consider
specific instances of nonstatutory mitigation, including his low intelligence, which he
raised for the first time on appeal. But the trial court said that it had considered all
statutory and nonstatutory mitigation, including mitigation that Miller did not offer.
Moreover, this alleged mitigating factor was not supported by the record.
State v. Henry
(Henry II), 189 Ariz. 542, 944 P.2d 57 (1997)
Henry claimed that the trial judge failed to consider
intelligence and education as mitigating factors because the judge believed they could
never qualify as such. That was not an accurate representation of the record. The trial
court stated that it would be "totally incomprehensible to find [intelligence and
education] as a mitigating factor in this case
" The Court agreed, noting that
Henry frequently used his intelligence for the purpose of deception. He gave police a
false name to avoid being connected to an outstanding warrant and lied about events
surrounding the murder to conceal his involvement. The Court saw "no reason to reward
an individual who uses his education and intelligence in duplicitous ways."
Rienhardt, 190 Ariz. 579, 951 P.2d 454 (1997)
The Court dismissed the defendant's low intelligence as
mitigation without discussion.
State v. Greene,
192 Ariz. 431, 967 P.2d 106 (1998)
Greene received his GED in 1985 and a degree from the
Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in 1989, specializing in Harley-Davidson repair. Although
the Court found this educational achievement to be "slightly mitigating," it was
not sufficiently substantial to overcome the aggravator of pecuniary gain.
State v. Doerr,
193 Ariz. 56, 969 P.2d 1168 (1998)
The defendant's I.Q. was 80, at the low end of low average.
Two experts testified that this would not have affected the defendant's ability to know
right from wrong. The defendant had a decent job and worked hard. The record shows no
connection between his intelligence level and the murder.
State v. Kayer,
194 Ariz. 423, 984 P.2d 31 (1999)
Intelligence is generally considered along with age as a
mitigating circumstance. The cases that have evaluated intelligence independently have
concluded that it is not a mitigating factor where there is evidence that the
defendant is intelligent. The Court cited Henry and Atwood for this
conclusion. Low intelligence can be a mitigating factor. The Court agreed with the trial
court that the defendant's relatively high intelligence was not a mitigating factor.
State v. (Frank Winfield) Anderson,
210 Ariz. 327, 111P.3d 639 ( 2005) Jury Trial/Indep. Review
While there was evidence that Anderson’s I.Q. was below
average and that he did not have a leader-type personality, this was
accorded very little weight, since Anderson was “not mentally
retarded, unable to make his own decisions, or lacking in the capacity
to judge right from wrong.”
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