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Landmark Case

Case Name: W.J. ESTELLE, Jr. v. Ernest  SMITH

Date, Location, Cite: 1981 TX
451 US 454

Smith was arrested for Murder 1; examined by a Psychiatrist, found Competent to Stand Trial. He was found guilty & at sentencing, the same psychiatrist testified he would be a "danger to society." Smith had not been told this Dr. would testify on this. Supreme Court said 5th Amendment rights had been violated when the patient wasn't warned, 6th Amendment rights violated because Counsel didn't know Dr. would be used, couldn't advise defendant. Some Justices felt 14th Amendment due process was violated as well- 9-0 decision.

This psychiatrist was known as "Dr. Death" as he always found all defendants dangerous and recommended execution in every case. The court reversed every death row case in which he had testified in the past, released them all.