Texas criminal defense lawyer Mick Mickelsen discusses challenges faced by defendants who appeal a death penalty sentence in a recent publication.
Dallas, TX – Texas criminal defense attorney Mick Mickelsen of the law firm of Broden & Mickelsen recently released a report on the execution of a Texas man who attempted to appeal his death penalty sentence on the basis of mental impairment. In the publication, the attorney highlights major challenges defendants face when appealing this type of case. According to the Dallas based criminal lawyer, “there are multiple scenarios under which courts may find valid grounds to reverse a sentence or conviction;” however, a number of defendants do not have effective legal representation, which he says “is critical in these types of criminal cases.”
The Death Penalty and Mental Health
Multiple media outlets have reported on the case of Coy Wesbrook, who became the 8th inmate in the U.S. and the 4th person in the state of Texas to be executed so far in 2016. Wesbrook was convicted of killing five individuals near Houston in 1997, and attributed his actions to being taunted by his former wife, who was one of those killed.
According to Mickelsen, who is not directly connected to the case, an appeal filed on behalf of Wesbrook cited mental impairment as grounds for his being ineligible for the death penalty, was rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Mental impairment is an issue in a number of death penalty cases because a defendant’s mental health has bearing on multiple aspects of their case in getting a fair trial, the attorney says.
Since the release of reports on the Wesbrook case, many questions have arisen regarding mental health and the death penalty, and what are valid grounds for winning an appeal based on this issue? It has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court that individuals who have intellectual disabilities cannot be executed. However, as noted by Mickelsen, mental illness, unless a person is declared insane, does not automatically exempt one from the death penalty. Mental illness can; however, be considered as a mitigating factor for sentencing.
The Challenges of Challenging a Death Penalty Sentence
Texas criminal defense attorney Mick Mickelsen says that whatever the grounds presented, death penalty appeals cases are extremely complex and the process for exhausting all appeal efforts is typically a very lengthy one in capital cases. In the news article, “Texas Man Executed for Multiple Murder Convictions Claimed to be Mentally Impaired,” the criminal defense attorney says “appeals in death penalty cases take time because there are many steps to ensure that there is no room for error. That’s why it is important that a defendant on death row have the best legal advocate representing them to ensure that all of the available options for appealing their sentence are exhausted before the final stage is done.”
To read more of Mickelsen’s recent commentary on death penalty case complexities, see the article “Texas Man Executed for Multiple Murder Convictions Claimed to be Mentally Impaired.”
For more information about attorney Mick Mickelsen, the law firm of Broden & Mickelsen, or getting help with filing a federal or Texas state criminal appeal for a murder conviction visit https://www.brodenmickelsen.com/.
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