Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marvin Wilson: John Steinbeck's son explains why he is "deeply troubled" about the execution set for 6.00 PM today.

STORY: Statement of Thomas Steinbeck, on behalf of his family, in which he discusses the Marvin Wilson case and the "Briseno" decision, which cites his father's work.

GIST: "In formulating the "the BriseƱo factors," a Texas court wrote that "most Texas citizens would agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt from execution. But does a consensus of Texas citizens agree that all persons who might legitimately qualify for assistance under the social services definition of mental retardation be exempt from an otherwise constitutional penalty?"

THE STATEMENT: "On behalf of the family of John Steinbeck, I am deeply troubled by today's scheduled execution of Marvin Wilson, a Texas man with an I.Q. of 61. Prior to reading about Mr. Wilson's case, I had no idea that the great state of Texas would use a fictional character that my father created to make a point about human loyalty and dedication, i.e, Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men, as a benchmark to identify whether defendants with intellectual disability should live or die. My father was a highly gifted writer who won the Nobel prize for his ability to create art about the depth of the human experience and condition. His work was certainly not meant to be scientific, and the character of Lennie was never intended to be used to diagnose a medical condition like intellectual disability. I find the whole premise to be insulting, outrageous, ridiculous, and profoundly tragic. I am certain that if my father, John Steinbeck, were here, he would be deeply angry and ashamed to see his work used in this way."

OTHER CONDEMNATIONS: "Mr. Wilson's scheduled execution has been condemned by numerous prominent groups and organizations, including the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Texas Senator Rodney Ellis, Texas Representative Lon Burnam, and others. The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/
retarded-and-on-death-row.html?_r=2 and the Dallas Morning News http://www.dallasnews. com/opinion/editorials/ 20120806-editorial-stop-this- execution.ece have editorialized that the execution must be stopped.

PUBLISHER'S VIEW: "As Publisher of the Charles Smith Blog, I add my voice to those who are protesting the pending execution of Marvin Wilson - a man who received a 61 on the standard Wechsler full-scale I.Q. test, a score placing him below the first percentile of human intelligence and far below the I.Q. threshold for mental retardation. Let me make this clear: I am utterly opposed to capital punishment and am pleased to be a citizen of Canada, a country which abolished capital punishment many years ago. So it's all the more disturbing that Texas is brazenly perverting scientific criteria relating to mental retardation so that it can frustrate the U.S. Supreme Court's intentions and take this "child- like man's" life. Mr. Wilson's lawyers have filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to consider whether the approach taken by Texas to redefine Marvin Wilson's mental status represents an unreasonable application of the Supreme Court’s rule against executing offenders with mental retardation. The execution is set for August 7. I truly hope they succeed. Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:


Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:


Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;