Buchanan v. Kentucky
Annotate this Case
483 U.S. 402 (1987)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Buchanan v. Kentucky, 483 U.S. 402 (1987)
Buchanan v. Kentucky
Argued January 12, 1987
Decided June 24, 1987
483 U.S. 402
Petitioner was tried with a codefendant for murder and related crimes. The trial court dismissed the capital portion of petitioner's indictment. It also denied his motions in which he requested that the jury not be "death qualified," and that there be two juries, one for guilt and the other for sentencing, with the first not being "death qualified." "Death qualification" occurs when prospective jurors are excluded for cause in light of their stated inability to set aside their strong opposition to the death penalty. At trial, petitioner attempted to establish the affirmative defense of "extreme emotional disturbance" by having a social worker read from several psychological evaluations that were made following a previous arrest. On cross-examination, the prosecutor attempted to rebut this defense by having the social worker read from another evaluation prepared by Dr. Robert J. G. Lange on the joint motion of the prosecution and counsel for petitioner following his murder arrest. As read to the jury, the report set forth Dr. Lange's general observations about petitioner's mental state, but did not describe any statements petitioner made about the crimes with which he was charged. After finding both defendants guilty, the jury imposed the maximum possible sentence on petitioner, and sentenced his codefendant to death. The Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed petitioner's conviction, holding that the jury's "death qualification" did not deprive petitioner of his right to an impartial jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community, and that the trial judge had not erred in allowing the introduction of Dr. Lange's report. The court ruled that petitioner had opened the door for the introduction of the report by his introducing earlier reports that were beneficial to him, and that the use of Dr. Lange's report did not violate petitioner's rights under Estelle v. Smith, 451 U. S. 454.
1. Petitioner was not deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury, representative of a fair cross-section of the community, because the prosecution was permitted to "death-qualify" the jury. Lockhart v. McCree, 476 U. S. 162, which authorizes "death qualification" prior to the guilt phase of a bifurcated capital trial, controls this case involving a joint trial in which the death penalty was sought only against petitioner's codefendant. The Commonwealth had legitimate interests in holding a joint trial where the defendants' conduct arose from
the same events, and in having a jury that could properly find the facts and apply the law at both phases of the trial as to both defendants, and assess the appropriateness of the death penalty for the codefendant. Pp. 483 U. S. 415-421.
2. The prosecution's use of Dr. Lange's report solely to rebut petitioner's psychological evidence did not violate petitioner's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights under Smith. Where, as here, a defendant requests a psychological evaluation or presents psychiatric evidence, the prosecution may rebut this presentation with the report of the requested examination without implicating the defendant's privilege against self-incrimination. Because petitioner did not testify, and his entire strategy was to establish his "mental status" defense through the social worker's readings of earlier evaluations, the prosecution could not respond to petitioner's case unless it presented other psychological evidence. Moreover, the use of Dr. Lange's report did not deny petitioner his right to the effective assistance of counsel. Unlike the situation in Smith, petitioner's counsel himself requested Dr. Lange's evaluation, and presumably discussed it with his client. Petitioner's argument that neither he nor his counsel could anticipate the report's use to rebut his "mental status" defense is unavailing. Smith put counsel on notice that, if he intended to present such a defense, he could anticipate the use of psychological evidence in rebuttal. Pp. 483 U. S. 421-425.
691 S.W.2d 210, affirmed.
BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, and in Part I of which STEVENS, J., joined, post p. 483 U. S. 426.