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Name: Kansas v. Cheever
Case #: 12-609
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 12/11/2013
Subsequent History: 134 S.Ct. 596, 187 L.Ed.2d 519

Where a defense expert testifies that the defendant lacked the requisite mental state to commit a crime, the Fifth Amendment does not prohibit the prosecution from introducing rebuttal evidence from a court-ordered mental evaluation of the defendant. After smoking methamphetamine, Cheever shot and killed a sheriff. At his trial for capital murder, Cheever presented expert testimony in support of a voluntary-intoxication defense. In rebuttal and over defense objection, the prosecution presented testimony from an expert who had examined Cheever by court order. The jury found Cheever guilty. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed with Cheever that the state had violated his Fifth Amendment rights when it introduced statements that he made during the court-ordered mental examination. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed. The court reaffirmed the rule of Buchanan v. Kentucky (1987) 483 U.S. 402: where a defense expert who has examined the defendant testifies that the defendant lacked the requisite mental state to commit an offense, the Fifth Amendment allows the prosecution to present psychiatric evidence in rebuttal, including a defendant’s statements made during a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. Any other rule would undermine the adversarial process by allowing the defendant to present a one-sided and potentially inaccurate view of his mental state. This rule applies when the defendant presents evidence of a “mental status” defense, including those based on psychological expert evidence as to the defendant’s mens rea, mental capacity to commit the crime, or ability to premeditate. The evidence does not need to be an “affirmative defense” under state law or be based on a “mental disease or defect.” Evidence of a temporary mental status, such as intoxication, also opens the door to this rebuttal evidence.