Return to Forensic Home Page || Return to Table of Contents

Landmark Case

Case Name: COOPER v. OKLAHOMA

Date, Location, Cite: 1996 OK
116 S. Ct. 1373, 134 L. Ed. 2d 498 517 U.S. 348
US SUPREME COURT

OK required "clear & convincing" (~75%) evidence to find someone incompetent to stand trial (IST). Byron Keith Cooper was charged with killing an 86 year old woman. During his trial he crouched in a fetal position and talked to spirits. He was committed to a State Hospital after a pretrial hearing and stayed there 3 months. The judge did not believe he met the Oklahoma standard for IST, and Cooper received the Death Penalty. The US Supreme Court said the state's interest in conducting a trial must not be placed ahead of an incompetent defendant's right to avoid a trial. Ruled that a Preponderance of Evidence (PoE) or ~50%+ was all that was needed. A unanimous decision. See Addington v. Texas for civil issues.