National briefs: Justices to hear death row case

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WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to clarify the legal standard for mental disability in the case of a Florida death row inmate who is illiterate and was once judged to be severely mentally disabled.

The justices in 2002 struck down imposing the death penalty for murderers who are mentally disabled, ruling this was cruel and unusual punishment. However, the court did not set a clear standard for mental disability and left the states some leeway in the matter.

Now, the court will decide whether states may rely entirely on a single IQ test.

Florida, like nine other states, has used a cutoff score of 70 on the test to measure for mental disability.

Freddie Hall, the Florida inmate, was sentenced to die for the kidnapping and murder of a woman he abducted from a grocery store in 1978 despite having organic brain damage and other mental disabilities.

Holder, mass shootings

PHILADELPHIA -- Giving police officers the tools to respond to mass shootings was the top concern for Attorney General Eric Holder in his address Monday to the annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

"We've seen in the last year, it's almost always patrol officers who are responding to active shooters, not SWAT teams," said Mr. Holder, referring to the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; and the Washington Navy Yard. Already this year, there have been 12 mass shootings, he told the audience of more than 1,000 state and local officers.

The Justice Department is developing guides for schools and churches to respond to active shooters and is already providing training for local officers on how to respond to such incidents.

Tea Party losing a seat

WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas, who was elected with Tea Party backing, said Monday that he won't seek a third term next year.

Mr. Griffin, 45, whose district includes Little Rock and its suburbs, said in a statement that he and his wife "have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children."

Also in the nation ...

Stephen Francis Bukucs, 39, of Portland, Ore., pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of aiming a laser pointer at two commercial airliners. ... Casey Anthony reached a settlement Friday with Texas EquuSearch, the search-and-recovery group that scoured Central Florida for her daughter in 2008, moving her a step closer to a clean financial slate.

-- Compiled from news services



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