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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1998, a Texas state jury convicted Woods and sentenced him to death for the murder of 11-year-old Sarah Patterson during the course of a kidnapping. Woods appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the CCA affirmed the conviction. Woods also filed a state application for habeas corpus relief, which the state habeas court denied. Woods then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. district court, but that petition was also denied. Woods sought a certificate of appealability from the 5th Circuit, which denied his request in a published order. On April 8, 2003 Woods filed a successor petition for habeas corpus relief in Texas state court raising two issues for review, including his claim alleging mental retardation under the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision Atkins v. Virginia. The CCA remanded the Atkins claim to the state trial court and dismissed the second claim as an abuse of the writ. On remand, the state trial court conducted a full evidentiary hearing before entering findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that relief be denied. The CCA adopted the trial court’s findings and conclusions and denied relief. Thereafter, Woods received permission from the 5th Circuit to file a successor federal habeas petition on the issue of “whether Woods is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for the death penalty according to Atkins.” Woods filed the successive habeas petition with the district court, and the district court: refused, for lack of jurisdiction, to consider all claims not associated with Woods’ Atkins claim; and denied relief on Woods’ Atkins claim. In reaching its conclusion, the district court denied the petition, because Woods failed to meet his “burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that the state court’s finding [of no mental retardation] is incorrect.” However, after denying relief, the district court granted Woods a COA on his claim, concluding “the state court record contained evidence on which some jurists would be willing to conclude Woods is in fact mentally retarded.” HOLDING:Affirmed. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 28 U.S.C. �2254, provides that federal courts may only grant habeas relief to a state prisoner if the state court’s adjudication on the merits either: 1. “resulted in a decision contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law” as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court; or 2. “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” In Atkins, the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment protects against the execution of mentally retarded individuals. In response, the CCA held that defendants and petitioners must establish by a preponderance of the evidence their mental retardation, as defined by either the American Association of Mental Retardation (AAMR) or the Texas Health and Safety Code. The AAMR definition has three requirements: 1. subaverage general intellectual functioning, generally defined as an IQ below 70; 2. “accompanied by related limitations in adaptive functioning defined as significant limitations in an individual’s effectiveness in meeting the standards of maturation, learning, personal independence, and/or social responsibility that are expected for his or her age level and cultural group, as determined by clinical assessment and, usually, standardized scales;” and 3. onset before the age of 18. Alternatively, Texas Health & Safety Code �591.003(13) succinctly defines mental retardation as “significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning that is concurrent with deficits in adaptive behavior and originates during the developmental period.” On the issue of whether Woods’ alleged mental retardation had an onset before age 18, the state presented testimony from several of Woods’ former teachers who stated they did not consider Woods to be mentally retarded when he was in their respective classes. As to Woods’ limitations in adaptive functioning, the state introduced affidavits from Woods’ former employers at the Round the Clock Grill, where Woods worked as a short-order cook. The affidavits indicated that Woods was a good cook who required little training. Based on this evidence, the state habeas court concluded that Woods failed to prove each required element by a preponderance of the evidence. The court agreed that Woods failed to make the required showing. In sum, the court found that the state court’s conclusion was not contrary to Atkins, because the state court did not apply a rule that contradicted Atkins and Woods could cite no materially indistinguishable case decided differently by the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, given the substantial evidence presented indicating that Woods was not mentally retarded, the court could not say that the state court applied Atkins in an objectively unreasonable manner. OPINION:DeMoss, J.; Barksdale, DeMoss and Dennis, JJ.

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