497 U.S. 1033 (1990), 88-7629, Vickers v. Arizona

Docket Nº:No. 88-7629
Citation:497 U.S. 1033, 110 S.Ct. 3298, 111 L.Ed.2d 806
Party Name:Robert Wayne VICKERS, petitioner v. ARIZONA
Case Date:June 28, 1990
Court:United States Supreme Court

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497 U.S. 1033 (1990)

110 S.Ct. 3298, 111 L.Ed.2d 806

Robert Wayne VICKERS, petitioner



No. 88-7629

United States Supreme Court.

June 28, 1990

Rehearing Denied Aug. 30, 1990.

See 497 U.S. 1050, 111 S.Ct. 14.

Case below, 138 Ariz. 450, 675 P.2d 710; 159 Ariz. 532, 768 P.2d 1177.


The petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 2973, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting), I would grant the petition for certiorari and vacate the death penalty in this case. Even if I did not hold this view, I would grant the petition to decide whether the Constitution requires a State to provide an indigent defendant access to diagnostic testing necessary to prepare an effective defense based on his mental condition, when the defendant demonstrates that his sanity at the time of the offense will be a significant issue at trial. I believe that our decision in Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 105 S.Ct. 1087, 84 L.Ed.2d 53 (1985), compels us to answer that question in the affirmative.

Petitioner Robert Wayne Vickers was convicted of murdering a prison inmate and sentenced to death. His only defense at trial was insanity. Specifically, Vickers claimed that he suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, a brain disorder that can cause violent behavior and render a person unable to appreciate the nature and wrongfulness of his acts. Vickers' court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Bindelglas, determined, after a lengthy interview and an exhaustive review of Vickers' medical records, that Vickers suffered from "definite dissociative reactions" possibly due to temporal lobe epilepsy. App. to Pet. for Cert. B-7. Dr. Bindelglas based his opinion on Vickers' history of cerebral trauma and seizures, neurological deficits reported by a psychologist when Vickers was a child, improvement in Vickers' condition when he was placed on anti-convulsive and psychotropic medications and

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reversion when he was taken off the medication, and an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) performed four years before the murder. Ibid. Dr. Bindelglas further opined that Vickers probably was in a dissociative state at the time of the offense, which made him "incapable of rendering any judgement and ... unable to know right from wrong." Id., at B-9. Dr. Bindelglas stated that he could not make a definitive diagnosis, however, without certain neuropsychological testing. Ibid.

Based on Dr. Bindelglas' recommendation, petitioner requested that the trial court provide access to diagnostic testing. Petitioner included with his request an affidavit from a second psychiatrist, Dr. David Bear, who, after reviewing petitioner's...

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