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James Earl Hill v. Nevada
Nevada Supreme Court
953 P.2d 1077 (1998)
James Earl Hill (defendant) was sentenced to death after being found guilty of sexual assault and murder. Hill’s trial attorney testified that the attorney was aware of Hill’s low IQ but that the attorney found Hill to be competent. The attorney stated that Hill assisted in the preparation of Hill’s defense, had no problems communicating, and was capable of discussing case strategy. A psychologist testified during the penalty phase but made no finding that Hill was incompetent. Hill subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to investigate Hill’s competency or raise an insanity defense related to Hill’s low IQ of 68 and his traumatic childhood. As part of the post-conviction motion, Hill was evaluated by two psychiatrists, who both found that Hill understood the nature of his criminal case, had the capacity to assist his attorney, and was in his right mind at the time of the murder. Hill’s post-conviction attorney also testified that Hill understood the charges against him. The lower court denied the petition, and Hill appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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