Skip to content
Name: Maldonado v. Superior Court of San Mateo County
Case #: S183961
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/23/2012

Under Penal Code section 1054.3, a reciprocal discovery statute, the prosecution is not prohibited from pretrial access to mental examinations of the defendant to rebut a mental-state defense. Recently amended section 1054.3 provides that when a defendant places his mental state in issue, the prosecution may obtain an order requiring the defendant to submit to examination by a prosecution-retained mental-health expert. The defendant in this case notified the prosecution of his intent to introduce evidence, through designated expert witnesses, that he suffers from neurocognitive deficits as a result of childhood brain trauma or congenital brain dysfunction. The Supreme Court considered whether the prosecution’s access to court-ordered examinations and their results both before and after the defendant actually introduces mental-state evidence into the trial should be limited. The Court noted that the Fifth Amendment does not directly prohibit the government from eliciting self-incriminating disclosures but, absent a valid waiver, only bars the direct or derivative use of such evidence. With this protection, the court found that no further measures were necessary or justified to safeguard Fifth Amendment rights in the context of pretrial court-ordered prosecution examinations when the defendant has indicated his intent to present a mental-state defense. Accordingly, the prosecution is entitled to full pretrial access to the results of mental examinations by prosecution experts pursuant to section 1054.3. The Court also found that petitioner’s argument that his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated by the prosecution’s advance access to examination materials counsel must review in determining whether to present a mental-state defense was unmeritorious as presented.