Supreme Court

Supreme Court Restores Death Sentence in Kansas Murder Case

Defendant argued Fifth Amendment violation for being forced to submit to mental health testing


The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored a death sentence for a Kansas murderer who claimed his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination had been violated when he was forced to submit to a mental health exam after claiming he was under the influence of drugs when he shot a sheriff.

In a 9-0 decision written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court ruled that if a defendant claims he was "intoxicated" at the time of the crime, the prosecutor may require an exam by a mental health expert and then release the findings to a jury.

The 5th Amendment does not allow defendants to present a "one-sided and potentially inaccurate view of his mental state at the time of the crime," Sotomayor wrote.

Sotomayor said that even if a defendant does not testify directly about his mental state, he opens the door to being required to respond to questions once he relies on his mental state or his intoxication as a defense.