HB 3080

85(R) - 2017
House Criminal Jurisprudence
House Criminal Jurisprudence
Criminal Procedure
Health & Human Services

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Neutral


Toni Rose

Bill Caption

Relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with severe mental illness.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

This bill would establish a restriction on the death penalty for defendants who, at the time of the commission of a capital offense, were suffering with severe mental illness. For the purpose of this chapter, a person with severe mental illness is a person who has one of the following disorders: schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, or bipoar disorder, and as a result of the disorder they have active psychotic symptoms that substantially impair the person's capacity to appreciate the nature, consequences, or wrongfulness of their conduct. 

If passed, the defendant’s counsel may request a special hearing to determine if the defendant was a person with severe mental illness at the time of the offense. If the notice for a special hearing was accompanied by certain evidence, the judge would be required to impanel a jury to make the determination. The burden of proof would be on the defendant to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that they were enduring mental illness when the offense was committed. A qualified institution or individual would make a determination to be used as evidence. If the defendant is found to have a presumption of mental illness they would be ineligible for the death penalty but subject to life without parole. If it is determined that the individual was not enduring mental illness at the time of the offense, the trial would proceed like normal.

If this bill passes, any party to the suit may request the appointment of disinterested experts who are qualified in diagnosing mental illness. This bill provides guidelines for the examination, and mandates that any statements made to a disinterested expert would not be admissible as evidence.

Vote Recommendation Notes

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the evaluation used by Texas to determine if a death row inmate has mental illness violates the constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”. The process contained in this bill would determine if the individual may face the death penalty prior to the trial, whereas the supreme court ruling is regarding inmates who have already been sentenced; therefore this would not have an impact on the procedure that was the subject of the Supreme Court’s criticism. However, the Supreme Court has banned the execution of individuals with mental disabilities and this bill would provide the state of Texas with another tool to determine if an individual qualifies for the death penalty. We support this bill because it helps to make Texas’ death penalty policy comply with supreme court rulings.  

Organizations Supporting

American Civil Liberties Union of Texas
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas
National Association of Social Workers
Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops
Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
Texas Impact