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Supreme Court Decisions

Case Name: Monte DURHAM v. U.S.

Date, Location, Cite: 1954 DC
214 Fed Rptr 2d 862
US Circuit Court of Appeals for DC
Defendant arrested '51 burglary; long history Serious mental illness & arrests; pled Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity -no jury, judge said burden on defendant to prove Mental State at time of offense; DC used Right/Wrong & irresistible impulse; appeals REVERSED; law presumes sane until some evidence introduced -then burden shifts to pros; NEVER TO Defendant; created new test; "Defendant not Criminally responsible if unlawful act product of Mental disease or defect- if no D/D, or act not product, then CRIMINALLY RESPONSIBLE" Test didn't work well (Judge Bazelon) now law only in NH; '72 US went to American Law Institute Model Penal code (ALI) test, 2 armed- several states have laws to MAKE BURDEN ON Defendant.

Case Name: DUSKY v. US

Date, Location, Cite: 1960 MO
362 US 402;80 S Ct 788
Milton Dusky, 33 year old man, assisted 2 teenagers in raping a 16 yr. old. charged with Kidnapping; has CUT schizophrenia; found Competent to Stand Trial, got 45 yrs.; Supreme Court. said Competent to Stand Trial means "Defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with lawyer with reasonable degree of rational & factual understanding of proceedings against him." It is not sufficient to find him oriented to time, place, and some events. On re-trial, still got 20 yrs.
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Case Name: Lawrence ROBINSON v. CALIFORNIA

Date, Location, Cite: 1962 CA
370 US 660
CA had a law against being an addict; Larry R. was convicted based on testimony of 2 cops who said he had needle marks and admitted addiction; he said was unconstitutional- Supreme Court agreed; can't make "status" a crime, Rx and punishment different goals- POWELL v. TEXAS had act of being drunk a crime, not alcoholism This case supported move to de-criminalize public drunks

Case Name: Johnnie K. BAXSTROM v. HEROLD

Date, Location, Cite: 1966 NY
383 US 107
Baxstrom was Prisoner, in a Dept of Corrections psychiatric hospital; Civilly committed. at end of sentence, but left in DOC hospital because DMH didn't want him. Writs were dismissed, request for transfer denied. Supreme Court said he was denied equal protection. Other Civil committees had right to hearing, he didn't; also he was in prison after End of sentence. Led to "operation Baxstrom."-- NOT SAME AS NGRI (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity).

Case Name: SPECHT v. PATTERSON, as warden

Date, Location, Cite: 1967 CO
386 US 605
Specht convicted of "indecent liberties" & sentenced to 10 years; CO sex offenders act said sex offenders were a threat to the public, and could be held up to life, based on psychiatric evaluation- Supreme Court said this was a violation of due process, he had a right to trial, with attorney, right to cross-examine, appeal, etc. "sex offender has the same rights as a defendant in murder trial"- CO therefore law unconstitutional.
cf. Allen v. Illinois.
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Case Name: in re Gerald GAULT

Date, Location, Cite: 1967 AZ
387 US 1
GAULT(15 year old) was arrested for making lewd phone calls- in Court. with his mom, the arresting officer & probation officer (who relayed victim's version) testified. Gault had no attorney. Judge sent him to Reform School 'till he would be 21. State law allowed no appeal- Fed appeal was lost in lower Court, Supreme Court. reversed-"Juvenile hearings must measure up to the essentials of due process; includes questioning only in safe place after notifying parents - JUVENILES HAVE SAME RIGHTS AS ADULTS EXCEPT TRIAL BY JURY.

Case Name: POWELL v. State of TEXAS

Date, Location, Cite: 1968 TX
392 US 514
Defendant arrested for public drunk; said he was alcoholic, couldn't help it, cited ROBINSON v. CALIF; Court affirmed, said ROBINSON made being alcoholic (status) a crime, POWELL only made public drunk a crime; also said alcoholism not a disease, not treatable; if decided today, probably would be different, as alcoholism is in DSM-IV, Rx centers exist; most states now don't have public drunkeness, police use disorderly conduct instead. Prosecution used no expert testimony.

Case Name: NC v ALFORD

1970 NC
400 US 25, 91 S.Ct.. 160
Trial judge may accept a guilty plea from a competent defendant, even if Defendant continues to say he was innocent. Guilty plea was not "compelled" just because Defendant faced death penalty; was a logical choice for him. Afford was Black man charged with murder of White man, all-white jury.
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Case Name: Theon JACKSON v. State of INDIANA

Date, Location, Cite: 1972 IND
406 US 715; 92 S Ct 1845
Mentally Retarded deaf mute, charged with 2 robberies; could not read, write, or communicate. Committed as Incompetent to Stand Trial. He said was "life sentence." IND Court said no, Supreme Court said yes; violates Due Process; If an Incompetent to Stand Trial patient can not become competent, he must either be civilly committed or released; violates right to speedy trial and also to right to be confined as a criminal only after being judged guilty. "Due process requires that nature & duration of commitment bear some reasonable relation to the purpose of commitment."
Alabama requires report to Court every 90 days on any long term IST patient.
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Case Name: James Ed. DROPE v. MISSOURI

Date, Location, Cite: 1975 MO
420 US 162, 95 S.Ct.. 896
Defendant raped his wife, and helped 2 others rape her. Psychiatrist saw for defense, said was Incompetent to Stand Trial, Court refused further evaluation. Tried to kill himself during trial, Court said was "voluntary absence," continued trial. Supreme Court said "Evidence of defendant's irrational behavior, demeanor at trial, prior medical opinion are all relevant in pursuing Competent to Stand Trial; even one of these factors standing alone may be sufficient to require further inquiry."

Case Name: J.B. O'CONNOR v. Kenneth DONALDSON

Date, Location, Cite: 1975 FL
422 US 563, 95 S.Ct... 2486
Follow up to Donaldson v. O'Connor. Supreme Court side-stepped right to treatment question, saw this as liberty issue only. Used the phrase, "can't commit without more." ?? what they meant by 'more.' Said superintendent NOT personally responsible unless he knew or was malicious. Vacated damages against O'Connor. Limits the right of the State to commit & confine; put Mental illness under Fed. Civil Rights statute. See also Vitek v. Jones
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Case Name: W.J. ESTELLE, Jr. v. J.W. GAMBLE

Date, Location, Cite: 1976 TX
429 US 97
Gamble was inmate, injured '73 on prison work detail; worked 4 hrs after injury -@ hospital, Physician Assistant sent him to his cell- 2 hrs later, complained of intense pain, nurse gave pain medications, saw MD; sent to cell to rest; 2 days later, Dr said move to lower bunk (not done); in spite of complaints of pain & medications he was sent back to work in 24 days; refused, placed in Administrative segregation-saw different MD, kept on medications for 32 days;(Rx lost for 4 days);put in solitary for refusal to work -his complaints were ignored by guards; Supreme Court said Administration violated 8th Amendment rights against "cruel & unusual punishment"/ DRS. failure ? malpractice, NOT 8TH AMENDMENT violation
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Case Name: Robert P. WHALEN
as Commissioner of Health of NY v. Richard ROE infant

Date, Location, Cite: 1977 NY
429 U.S. 589
NY passed law to require a copy of every Rx with a legal & illegal market- Patient. & Drs. sued, said it was Needless broad intrusion into privacy, violated. "zone of Privacy" 2 ways, both personal & right to make Rx decisions, without Government intervention- Supreme Court said this was a reasonable exercise of police powers; since info was not public, was adequate. safeguard- patient routinely disclose to Insurance Co., Health Dept; Suit that right to practice was impaired was "frivolous" Court. chose right of society to stop drug abuse over individual pt's rights.

Case Name: Frank O'Neal ADDINGTON
v. State of TEXAS

Date, Location, Cite: 1979 TX
441 US 418, 99 S.Ct... 1804
Pt. committed under "clear & convincing" (& unequivocal) standard. Appealed to require "beyond a reasonable doubt" Supreme Court. said that "preponderance of evidence (PoE)" (51%) is too weak, "Beyond Reasonable Doubt"(99.9%) too strict, "Clear & Convincing" (~75%) best. Also struck the word "unequivocal" as too strict. This was a UNANIMOUS dec. Eleven states have laws that require "Beyond Reasonable Doubt"; still valid; this case sets minimum...? if appealed from one of 11."Civil Commitment for any purpose ...requires due process protection." see also vitek v. Jones

Case Name: James PARHAM v. J.R. etal

Date, Location, Cite: 1979 GA
442 US 584
GA had no specific law about release of a minor even if well; original. Court. said unconstitutional; Supreme Court said parent, or state if guardian, can act in best interest of child, even if child doesn't like it. Stopped short of requiring full hearing, but instructed GA to create periodic post-hospital reviews by neutral party. Reversed KREMENS v. BARTLEY, 1977, PA "there is a substantial liberty interest in not being confined unnecessarily for treatment"
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Case Name: Joseph VITEK v. Larry D. JONES

Date, Location, Cite: 1980 NE
445 US 480
Jones was mentally ill prisioner who was transferred to state hospital without a hearing. Trial Court said was unconstitutional; Supreme Court agreed. Said even a convicted felon retained the right to not be stigmatized without due process. Commitment to Mental Hosp entails a "massive curtailment of liberty" and requires due process protection. see ADDINGTON v. TEXAS // O'CONNOR v. DONALDSON
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Case Name: W.J. ESTELLE, Jr. v.
Ernest Benjamin SMITH

Date, Location, Cite: 1981 TX
451 US 454
Smith arrested for Murder 1; examined by Psych, found Competent to Stand Trial; found guilty - at sentencing, same psychiatrist testified he would be "danger to society"; Pt. not told this Dr. would testify on this; Supreme Court. said 5th Amendment rights violated, pt not warned, 6th Amendment rights violated, Counsel didn't know Dr. would be used, couldn't advise; some Justices felt 14th Amendment due process violated as well- 9-0 decision; question: can prosecution. use testimony of psychiatrist 1st hired by defense? This has been hotly contested.
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Case Name: John & Annie SANTOSKY v. Bernhardt KRAMER, Commissioner of Social Services

Date, Location, Cite: 1982 NY
102 S.Ct... 1388
Children removed for neglect; NY had law that said Preponderance of Evidence (PoE =~ 51%) was rule, family appealed as they lost all contact forever with kids, said it was too serious for Preponderance of Evidence (51+%). Court agreed, said 35 states use Clear & Convincing (C&C ~75%), Federal Courts use Beyond Reasonable Doubt (Brd~95+%); therefore C&C was proper.

Case Name: BOARD OF EDUCATION (Westchester Co, NY) v. Amy ROWLEY

Date, Location, Cite: 1982 NY
102 S.Ct... 3034
Amy was deaf; her parents wanted a signer in her classes. School said wasn't needed, had experts to back them. Parents sued. Court said Education for All Handicapped Children Act required a "free appropriate public education" but this did not include services to maximize child's potential, only to get them adequate and personalized education. Amy made good grades and passed easily. 6-3 decision.
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Case Name: YOUNGBERG, Supt Pennhurst State School v. Nicholas ROMEO by his mom

Date, Location, Cite: 1982 PA
457 US 307
Romeo was profoundly retard, couldn't talk, do basic self care; mom worried about injuries he got, sued on 8th Amendment & 14th Amendment; right to safe conditions, freedom from restraints, and to "habilitation." Trial Court said 8th Amendment was violated, appeals reversed, US Supreme Court agreed. Said "patients have a Constitutional Right to reasonably safe conditions, etc. -REASONABLE IS DEFINED BY QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL-Court. must defer to Prof. Opinion;cf. Rennie v. Klein
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Case Name: Thomas A. BAREFOOT v. W.J. ESTELLE, Jr.

Date, Location, Cite: 1983 TX
463 US 880
'78 Convicted for Murder 1- AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION filed Amicus Brief saying 1) Psychiatrists can't predict dangerousness 2) Psych should have to examine pt.; Supreme Court affirmed lower court & said "The fact that prediction of future dangerousness is difficult does not mean that it can not be made" (JUREK)-- also, hypothetical question was allowable; PSYCHIATRIST CAN TESTIFY TO ULTIMATE ISSUE- Justices Brennan & Marshall dissented.

Case Name: Michael JONES v. US

Date, Location, Cite: 1983 DC
463 US 354, 103 S.Ct... 3043
Defendant arrested in '75 for petty larceny, max 1 yr term; sent to St Elizabeth's Hospital; found Competent to Stand Trial in '76, found Not Guilty by reason of Insanity (NGI); committed back to St. Elizabeth's; in '80 sued, saying he should be held only to max time for which he could have been sentenced, then meet civil standard or be released; ALL appeals denied; Supreme Court said finding of Not Guilty by reason of Insanity (NGI) by Preponderance of Evidence (51+%) standard was enough to justify holding; indeed, Not Guilty by reason of Insanity (NGI) proves not Responsible; "sentence" is hypothetical, since Not Guilty by reason of Insanity (NGI) means he was not Guilty; Court refused to separate violent/non-violent crime; all bad, all justify commitment; [State of Conn uses hypothetical sentence as standard; says civil commitment "against" pt, Not Guilty by reason of Insanity (NGI) advanced by him, different standard] this was 5-4 case; minority for Clear & Convincing (~75%) as standard for defining ill / dangerous

Case Name: IRVING Independent School District
v. Henri TATRO for Amber Tatro

Date, Location, Cite: 1984 TX
104 S.Ct... 3371
Amber was born with spina bifida, needed intermittent catherization to stay in school; school said they couldn't do this, it was medical, but Court said lay person or nurse could do it, school had to provide. However, did NOT allow parents to recover attorney's fees.

Case Name: Glen Burton AKE v. OKLAHOMA

Date, Location, Cite: 1985 APPROVE
105 S.Ct... 1087 [BALDI-344 US 561]
Charged with Murder 1, 2 counts; Judge said INCOMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL-6 weeks later, Treated, returned Competent to Stand Trial/on chlorpromazine (Thorazine) no Mental State at time of offense exam was done-NGRI (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity) plea entered, so Mental State at time of offense was only issue, State's Psychiatrists had no opinion since they did not examine. no testimony On either Side on Mental State at time of offense. Convicted, sentenced to death +1000 yrs. Appeals Court refused to hear. Supreme Court said Due Process requires the State to provide a Psychiatrist. cited. GIDEON v. WAINWRIGHT(right to assistance of counsel)-US v. BALDI (1953) says right to independent Expert, but not to Expert of Defendant's choice. More than 40 states have statutes permitting this already. cf Louisianna v. Perry
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Date, Location, Cite: 1986 IL
106 S.Ct... 2988
Defendant convicted of deviate sexual assault; then examined by 2 psychiatrists who said he was a sexually dangerous person. He appealed on 5th Amendment, said psychiatrist took data which incriminated him. Court said this was "civil" action, that just because he would be locked up for life in Maximum Security Forensic Hospital, it was for treatment for his own good, 5th Amendment didn't count. see SPECHT v. PATTERSON for reasonable discusion. 5-4 decision, hotly contested, and should be.

Case Name: COLORADO v. Francis Barry CONNELLY

Date, Location, Cite: 1986 CO
107 SC. 515 - 147 U.S. 157
Connelly confessed to a real murder, was Marinda-ized 2 ways, still gave details without attorney. Psychotic voices "made him confess." Trial Court. suppressed confession, said it was involuntary- CO Supreme Court affirmed - US Supreme Court reversed; "involuntary" means coercive POLICE action under 14th. Amendment. "5th Amendment not concerned with moral or mental pressure to confess, only official." Waiver of Miranda requires Preponderance of evidence (PoE=51%) but less than Beyond a reasonable doubt (~99+%) This is THE Case for Competent to Stand Trial but ? COMPETENT to WAIVE MIRANDA. Competent to Stand Trial and COMPULSIVE at Confession DIFFERENT Issues.
(Patient pled to second degree homicide, then left CO in 1990)
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Case Name: Alvin Bernard FORD v.

Date, Location, Cite: 1986 FL
477 US 399
Ford convicted in '74, no insanity claim; in '82 his behavior changed- in '83 a psychiatrist said he had Serious mental illness, didn't understand why he was being executed- 3 state psychiatrists said was able to understand (competnet to be executed) - Supreme Court said 8th Amendment bars execution of insane inmate- Due process requires a hearing- dissent wanted to defer to state laws, prohibit executions of mentally ill, but use less procedure. The court felt that execution of a mentally ill person has less retribution value, fails to set the desired example, is not likely to deter others, and just "offends humanity." interesting, in that no scientific data proves that any execution deters others, and since most of world bars executions, perhaps any death penality "offends humanity."

Case Name: Vickie Lorene ROCK v. ARKANSAS

Date, Location, Cite: 1987 AR
107 S. Ct. 2704
Rock shot her husband after a fight; couldn't remember details, but with hypnosis, remembered her "finger was not on trigger, gun just went off"; gun expert said this could happen with this gun; AR law precluded hypnosis per se; Supreme Court said total bar restricted 14th Amendment right to due process & 6th Amendment right to call witnesses; though hypnosis has weaknesses, total exclusion arbitrary; NOT THE SAME AS NON-PARTY WITNESS UNDER HYPNOSIS (see NJ v.HURD)

Case Name: School Board of NASSAU CO FLA v. Gene H. ARLINE

Date, Location, Cite: 1987 FL
480 US 273
School teacher had reactivated Tuberculosis in '77; school fired her due to fear of contagion; she sued as a handicapped individual. under '73 Rehabilitation Act; Supreme Court said she was right; to make being contagious an exception would justify discrimination based on ignorance; "otherwise qualified, handicapped individuals are guaranteed equal treatment, due process" (this also protects the public) should be a precedent to AIDS
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Case Name: Joshua DeSHANEY (a minor)
v. WINNEBAGO CO. Dept of Social Services (DSS)

Date, Location, Cite: 1989 WI
109 S.Ct... 998
Joshua was beaten many times by father; for 2 yrs, DSS knew about it, did little. At age 4 Joshua was beaten so badly he was rendered mentally defective for life. Mom sued, said DSS owed a duty to protect her son. Court said that duty was to persons held (prisoners, mentally ill) but NOT to persons at liberty. State does not have to ensure freedom from "private violence," only attempt to help. This seems to let Dss not do the job for which it is created, but some have argued that this case should have been filed in a different manner (state/ federal).
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Date, Location, Cite: 1990 WA
110 S.Ct... 1028
Court said state can treat a Mentally Ill Inmate against his/her will, but state must first establish that
  1. prisoner is dangerous to himself or others, or
  2. seriously disruptive to environment AND TREATMENT is in his "medical interest."
Also did not require hearing, relied on Dr's. judgement.


Date, Location, Cite: 1990 FL
110 S.Ct... 975
Burch was admitted to Fl state hosp while "medicated & disoriented" as "voluntary" pt. He sued for deprivation of liberty without due process. The court said he wasn't competent, but primarily looked only at deprivation of liberty as being adequately addressed with tort law. They said Fl did not fulfil its duty to protect patient, and couldn't say this was just a random act of an employee who failed to follow procedure.

Case Name: Nancy Beth CRUZAN

Date, Location, Cite: 1990 MO
760 S.W.2d 408 (Mo '88) afmd. 110 S.Ct.. 2841
State Courts usually decide Right to Die; (see QUINLAN,'76) Most have felt that competent patients have right to refuse treatment and that a surrogate can decide.MO Supreme Court said there was no Clear & Convincing (~75%) evidence of this particular patient's wishes, so refused her parent's request made for her. Supreme Court said RIGHT TO DIE includes even feeding, but MO law was NOT unconstitutional just because it was tight on 14th right to not be deprived of life without due process. US Does NOT REQUIRE Clear & Convincing (~75%); Just Says States CAN Make That Rule.
Conclusion:MAKE A LIVING WILL!(5-4 decision)
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Date, Location, Cite: 1991 TN
111 S.Ct... 2597
Payne brutally killed a 28 yr old woman & her small child. Jury in death penalty hearing told of impact on rest of family. The Supreme Court REVERSED ITSELF, overturned Booth v. Md & SC v. Gathers, said impact WAS important to justice. Also said didn't violate 8th Amendment. Apparently, if you kill an important person, it is a more serious crime than killing someone who is unloved and unimportant!


Date, Location, Cite: 1992 LA
112 S.Ct... 1780
Terry Foucha was a patient at East Feliciana State Hospital (La Maximum Secure) - His chart used "dangerousness" alone to justify stay; Court said this was not enough, needed documentation of Mental illness as well. Dozens of patient released, most are back in system now; was a procedure problem, but it is important to remember that NGI patients must be both ill and dangerous to continue committment.
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Case Name: Salvador GODINEZ, warden,
v. Richard MORAN

Date, Location, Cite: 1993 NV
113 S.Ct. 2680
Moran killed 2 men in a bar, his wife, shot himself. Two Psychiatrists said he was Competent to Stand Trial. State sought Death Penalty, defendant then said he wanted to plead Guilty. Sentenced to death, then appealed, saying he was incompetent to defend himself due to Mental Illness. Appeals Court said Competency to waive rights took higher standard than Competency to Stand Trial. Supreme Court overturned this and SIELING(qv), said Competency to Stand Trial is SAME as Competent to Plead Guilty.

Case Name: Wm DAUBERT

Date, Location, Cite: 1993 CA
113 S.Ct.. 2786
Federal Rules of Evidence supersede the "Frye" test (qv): "If scientific... or other tech knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence.. a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise." Rule 702
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