Johnny Paul Penry is a 44 year old mentally retarded man, sentenced to death in Texas.
A few hours before the time of his execution, on November the 16th last year, the Supreme Court of Washington granted a suspension and a re-examination of his case. The next audience will be in march this year.
The Community of Sant'Egidio has worked hard for Johnny's death sentence to be revoked. The Movement "The Friends", born from the Community of Sant'Egidio and involving both mentally handicapped people and not, has recently presented a sworn statement which holds legal value and is called "Amicus brief".
It is a legal instrument used by lawyers in the Court of Appeal which allows individuals and/or organisations to participate in the penal process with their competent opinion. In Johnny's case it states, raising several points, that mentally retarded people should be excluded from the execution of the death penalty; it also maintains that it would violate the Constitution of the United States (eighth amendment) and international law.