FLORIDA v. GARRETT
454 U.S. 1004

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U.S. Supreme Court

FLORIDA v. GARRETT , 454 U.S. 1004 (1981)

454 U.S. 1004

FLORIDA v. Willie Allen GARRETT
No. 81-53 Supreme Court of the United States November 2, 1981 Rehearing Denied Jan. 11, 1982. See 454 U.S. 1165.

On petition for writ of certiorari to the District Court of Appeal of Florida for the Third District. The motion of respondent for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice REHNQUIST, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting. In Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715 ( 1972), this Court concluded that "on the record before us, Indiana cannot constitutionally commit the petitioner for an indefinite period simply on account of his incompetency to stand trial on the charges filed against him." Id., at 720. It went on to state: "Respondent argues, however, that because the record fails to establish affirmatively that Jackson will never improve, his commitment 'until sane' is not really an indeterminate one. It is only temporary, pending possible change in his condition. Thus, presumably, it cannot be judged against commitments under other state statutes that are truly indeterminate. . . . "Were the State's factual premise that Jackson's commitment is only temporary a valid one, this might well be a different case. But the record does not support that premise." Id., at 725. The Jackson Court went on to discuss Greenwood v. United States, 350 U.S. 366 (1956), and held that it did not support Indiana's position, since it merely "upheld the Federal Government's constitutional authority to commit an individual found by the District Court to be 'insane,' incompetent to stand trial on outstanding criminal charges, and probably dangerous to the safety of the officers, property, or other interests of the United States." 406 U.S., at 726. In the present case, the Florida District Court of Appeal, 390 So.2d 95 reversed respondent's murder conviction on the ground that, prior to trial, he had been committed to a state hospital longer than necessary to assess the likelihood of his eventual

Page 454 U.S. 1004 , 1005

recovery of competency to stand trial. In my view, the decision rests on a serious misunderstanding of this Court's opinion in Jackson, supra. In light of the risk that the error will be repeated if not corrected, I would grant the petition.

On July 7, 1970, respondent was indicted for the first-degree murder of a police officer. He was arraigned and entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. Following a hearing on September 14, 1970, the trial court found respondent incompetent to stand trial and committed him to a state hospital. Three psychiatrists testified that respondent was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and that episodes of the illness were likely to recur without intensive treatment. The psychiatrists also agreed that respondent posed a serious danger to himself and to others. [Footnote 1]

Over the next six years, the trial court ordered periodic psychiatric examinations of respondent and conducted five hearings to reevaluate his competency to stand trial. In hindsight, the hearings reveal a recurrent pattern of behavior. While institutionalized, respondent received large doses of psychotropic medication, which, in the opinion of the examining psychiatrists, were successful in restoring his competency to stand trial. The trial court, however, apparently was of the view that it could not reach a valid determination of competency as long as respondent was under the influence of medication. This view was shared by respondent's counsel and by at least one of the examining psychiatrists. As a result, the court ordered withdrawal of medication and reevaluation. Typically, respondent severely regressed without medication. On the occasion of each reevaluation, the examining psychiatrists found respon- [454 U.S. 1004 , 1006]


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