Supreme Court Rules on Kansas Mental Health Case

By aholsinger

In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that had overturned the death sentence of Kansas inmate Scott Cheever. Cheever claimed that his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination had been violated because he was forced to undergo a mental health exam after claiming he was intoxicated at the time of the crime. A psychiatrist who examined him testified that Cheever’s “antisocial personality,” rather than his drug use, explained his crime. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the opinion of the Court, said, “where a defense expert who has examined the defendant testifies that the defendant lacked the requisite mental state to commit an offense, the prosecution may present psychiatric evidence in rebuttal.” Since Cheever was relying on his mental state for his defense, the prosecution was entitled to present contrary evidence on his mental state. The Court had earlier ruled that psychiatric statements could not be used against a defendant who “neither initiates a psychiatric evaluation nor attempts to introduce any psychiatric evidence.”

(D. Savage, “Supreme Court restores death sentence for Kansas murderer,” Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2013.) See U.S. Supreme Court. Read the full ruling in Kansas v. Cheever.

Via: Supreme Court Rules on Kansas Mental Health Case