483 U.S. 402 (1987), 85-5348, Buchanan v. Kentucky

Docket Nº:No. 85-5348
Citation:483 U.S. 402, 107 S.Ct. 2906, 97 L.Ed.2d 336, 55 U.S.L.W. 5026
Party Name:Buchanan v. Kentucky
Case Date:June 24, 1987
Court:United States Supreme Court

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483 U.S. 402 (1987)

107 S.Ct. 2906, 97 L.Ed.2d 336, 55 U.S.L.W. 5026




No. 85-5348

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 1987

Argued January 12, 1987



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 [107 S.Ct. 2907] 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

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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. 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. 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. 426.

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BLACKMUN, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents two narrow issues arising out of petitioner Buchanan's trial for murder. First, it poses the question whether petitioner was deprived of his right to an impartial jury, representative of a fair cross-section of the community, because the Commonwealth of Kentucky was permitted to "death-qualify" the jury in his joint trial where the death penalty was sought against his codefendant. Second, the case raises the question whether the admission of findings from a psychiatric examination of petitioner proffered solely to rebut other psychological evidence presented by petitioner violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights where his counsel had requested the examination and where petitioner attempted to establish at trial a mental-status defense.1

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Shortly after midnight on January 7, 1981, police in Louisville, Ky., discovered the partially clad body of 20-year-old Barbel C. Poore in the backseat of her automobile. The young woman had been sexually assaulted and shot twice in the head. The discovery was occasioned by a report to the police from Poore's mother, who had driven by the gas station where her daughter worked, after Poore failed to return home at the expected time, and who found the station unattended and unlocked. Tr. 399 (Aug. 2-13, 1982). The ensuing police investigation led to the arrest of Kevin Stanford, Troy Johnson, and petitioner, David Buchanan, a juvenile.

From the confessions of these participants, including that of petitioner, the events surrounding the murder were reconstructed: Petitioner first approached Johnson with a plan to rob the gas station, and obtained from him a gun and bullets owned by Johnson's brother. Id. at 1031. Petitioner then telephoned Stanford, who lived in an apartment complex next to the station, and proposed the plan to him. Id. at 1032. Johnson and petitioner proceeded to the parking lot of the apartment complex, where they met Stanford. Petitioner told Johnson to wait in the car while he and Stanford approached the station. Id. at 484, 1033. Petitioner and Stanford entered the station office, with Stanford carrying the gun. While petitioner attempted to locate and then to open the safe, Stanford took Poore into the interior restroom and raped her. Id. at 484-485. After petitioner failed to open the safe, he joined Stanford and the two took turns raping and sodomizing Poore despite her plea to petitioner that the assault cease. Id. at 485, 1044.

Approximately a half hour after leaving Johnson, petitioner returned to the car carrying a can of gasoline, which he placed in its backseat. After telling Johnson to continue to wait, id. at 1034, petitioner left for the station. He came back to the car once again, entered it, and ordered

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Johnson to drive to a location, a short distance from the station, where Stanford had driven Poore in Poore's car in order, as petitioner put it, "[t]o have some more sex with her." Id. at 1037. Petitioner got out of Johnson's car and approached Stanford, who was standing beside the driver's side of Poore's vehicle. Ibid. As petitioner watched, Stanford shot Poore in the face and then, as petitioner started to return to [107 S.Ct. 2909] Johnson's car, in the back of the head. Id. at 486, 1037-1038.

While Johnson was held over in juvenile court,2 petitioner and Stanford were transferred to the Circuit Court of Jefferson County and were indicted for capital murder and other charges arising out of events surrounding the murder.3 The Commonwealth proceeded to try petitioner and Stanford

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jointly.4 Petitioner did not request that his trial be severed from Stanford's.5 In two pretrial motions, he did request that the jury not be "death qualified,"6 and that there be

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two juries, one for guilt and the other for sentencing, with [107 S.Ct. 2910] the first not being "death qualified." App. 5, 8. In essence, he argued that the "death qualification" of the jury prior to the guilt phase violated his right to an impartial jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 6, 9. The court denied both motions. Petitioner filed another pretrial motion seeking dismissal of the capital portion of the indictment against him on the basis that Stanford had been the triggerman, that petitioner had no intent to kill Poore, and that, therefore, under Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782 (198?),7 petitioner could not be sentenced to death. App.19, 22. Without opinion and with no objection from the prosecution, the court granted this motion. Id. at 24. At voir dire, petitioner renewed his earlier motions as to "death qualification," emphasizing that he was no longer subject to the death penalty. Id. at 26-27. The court again denied these motions.

At trial, petitioner attempted to establish the affirmative defense of "extreme emotional disturbance."8 He called as

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his sole witness a social worker, Martha Elam, who formerly had been assigned to his case. At the request of petitioner's counsel, she read to the jury from several reports and letters dealing with evaluations of petitioner's mental condition.9

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On cross-examination...

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