Hartless v. State, 116

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Citation611 A.2d 581,327 Md. 558
Docket NumberNo. 116,116
PartiesDavid Andrew HARTLESS v. STATE of Maryland. ,
Decision Date01 September 1990

George M. Lipman, Asst. Public Defender and Jose Felipe Anderson, Asst. Public Defender (Stephen E. Harris, Public Defender, on brief), Baltimore, for petitioner.

Thomas K. Clancy, Asst. Atty. Gen. (J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Atty. Gen., on brief), Baltimore, for respondent.

Argued before MURPHY, C.J., ELDRIDGE, RODOWSKY, McAULIFFE, CHASANOW and KARWACKI, JJ., and MARVIN H. SMITH, Judge of the Court of Appeals (Ret., Specially Assigned).


On 17 October 1987, Angelica Valezco, a 20-year-old clerk at a High's Dairy store in Columbia, Maryland, was stabbed to death during a robbery of the store. Petitioner David Andrew Hartless was charged with the crime and tried by jury in the Circuit Court for Howard County. Hartless was found guilty of premeditated first degree murder, second degree murder, robbery, robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon, assault, and battery. After merger of the lesser included offenses, Hartless was sentenced to life imprisonment for first degree premeditated murder and to a consecutive sentence of 20 years for robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed in an unreported opinion.

In his petition for writ of certiorari, Hartless alleged that the trial court committed two errors: 1) it violated his right against compelled self-incrimination and his right to due process of law by allowing the State to obtain mental examinations of him, and by releasing the results of those examinations to the State before he had introduced any psychiatric testimony in his defense, and 2) it erroneously excluded a defense expert's testimony concerning Hartless' psychological profile and his mens rea at the time of the crime. We granted certiorari to decide these issues.


Early in the course of the proceedings, the State filed a "Request for Expert and Alibi Witnesses" pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-263 requesting, among other things, copies of all written reports made by experts that the defendant intended to call as witnesses. Thereafter, the defendant provided the State with a copy of a report of Dr. Ellen McDaniel, a psychiatrist, and informed the State that the defense intended to present expert psychiatric testimony that the defendant "had not formed the specific intent to kill." In response, the State filed a motion pursuant to Rule 4-263(d)(1), seeking a mental examination of the defendant by a psychiatrist and a psychologist. The defendant opposed the State's request for a mental examination, and alternatively sought a protective order limiting the State's access to results of the mental examination.

After a hearing on the motions, Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. granted the State's motion for a mental examination. Judge Sybert also issued a protective order directing that the results of the examination be turned over to the court for in camera review, and that pending further order of the court, the State should not have access to oral or written reports of the results of the examination, nor contact with the examining experts. The court denied the defendant's request to have counsel present at, and to have a video recording made of, the examinations.

The defendant was thereafter examined by a psychiatrist and a psychologist selected by the State, and the results were provided only to Judge Sybert. When trial commenced before Judge J. Thomas Nissel and a jury, the State had had no contact with its experts or access to their findings. After six days of the State's case in chief and two days before the State rested, Judge Sybert ordered that the parties be given a summary of the findings by the State's experts. After the State had rested, the State was given full access to the reports and to the experts. The court ordered, however, that the State could use information gained from its experts only in rebuttal and only if Hartless' psychiatric expert testified at trial for the defense. During the trial, Judge Nissel refused to admit the testimony and report of Dr. McDaniel when offered by the defense, and therefore the State never offered the testimony or reports of its experts.

The defendant argues that even though the results of the examination by the State's experts were not admitted at trial, the examination itself violated his right against self-incrimination, and the order to submit to an examination may have had a "chilling effect" on the defendant's right to testify, thus denying him due process of law. The defendant also claims that the examination gave the State insight into the defendant's ability to communicate with the jury, and an unfair opportunity to be made aware of the defendant's responses to questioning. We note, however, that the defendant does not specifically claim that his decision not to testify was influenced by being subjected to the State's mental examinations; nor does he point to any statements made during those examinations that could have given the State insight into his defense.

Hartless concedes that a compelled mental examination is not per se unconstitutional. He acknowledges it is well established that such an examination is permissible when a defendant enters a plea of not criminally responsible, and that, if he had entered such a plea, the State would have been entitled to a mental examination under § 12-110 of the Health-General Article, Maryland Code (1982, 1990 Repl.Vol.). Hartless recognizes that Rule 4-263 also authorizes mental examinations of defendants, but he asserts that the Rule is intended to be limited to cases involving pleas of not criminally responsible. Hartless concludes that since he sought only to present evidence of a lack of premeditation or of intent to commit murder, no examination was authorized under Maryland law.

The State responds that the examinations were properly ordered pursuant to Rule 4-263, and did not violate any of the defendant's constitutional rights. The State asserts that when a defendant intends to produce expert psychiatric testimony concerning his mental condition, the State must be allowed to conduct its own mental examination in order to effectively evaluate and rebut the defendant's psychiatric testimony. The State claims that its need for an examination is equally great, whether the defense is offering expert testimony to show insanity or to show a lack of mens rea or other mental state.


We begin our analysis by recognizing that, unlike § 12-110 of the Health-General Article, Maryland Rule 4-263 does not by its terms limit authorization of mental examinations of defendants only to cases in which a plea of not criminally responsible has been entered. Subsection (d)(1) of Rule 4-263 provides:

(d) Discovery by the State.--Upon the request of the State, the defendant shall:

(1) As to the Person of the Defendant.--Appear in a lineup for identification; speak for identification; be fingerprinted; pose for photographs not involving reenactment of a scene; try on articles of clothing; permit the taking of specimens of material under fingernails; permit the taking of samples of blood, hair, and other material involving no unreasonable intrusion upon the defendant's person; provide handwriting specimens; and submit to reasonable physical or mental examinations; .... (Emphasis added).

To interpret the Rules, we use the same principles of construction as are used for interpreting statutes. In re Leslie M., 305 Md. 477, 481, 505 A.2d 504 (1986); Pappas v. Pappas, 287 Md. 455, 465, 413 A.2d 549 (1980). We thus look to the plain meaning of Rule 4-263(d)(1) and construe its language without forced or subtle interpretations designed to limit its scope. Baltimore Sun v. University, 321 Md. 659, 669, 584 A.2d 683 (1991); State v. Intercontinental, Ltd., 302 Md. 132, 137, 486 A.2d 174 (1985).

We find no authority, and Hartless points to none, to support his claim that Rule 4-263(d)(1) was not intended to apply to cases in which a defendant challenges with expert psychiatric testimony the existence of the mens rea element of a crime. The Rule is purposely drafted broadly to give a trial judge discretion to order any of these forms of discovery when the State has established them to be necessary and reasonable. Thus, unless there are constitutional prohibitions, Rule 4-263 gives a trial judge discretion to grant the State's request for a mental examination of a defendant who intends to offer expert psychiatric testimony to show the defendant's mental status.

We turn to Hartless' claim that the application of Rule 4-263 in this case violated his constitutional rights. In so doing, we must consider whether State-requested mental examinations of a defendant in a criminal case infringe upon a defendant's due process rights, or the right not to be compelled to give evidence against himself.

As mentioned, it is accepted that these rights are not violated by allowing the State a mental examination of a defendant who has entered a plea of not criminally responsible, and, if the defendant introduces psychiatric testimony at trial, by allowing the State to present testimony by its psychiatrist on the issue of criminal responsibility. See United States v. Byers, 740 F.2d 1104, 1111 (D.C.Cir.1984) and cases cited therein; United States v. Albright, 388 F.2d 719, 723-26 (4th Cir.1968); Bremer v. State, 18 Md.App. 291, 315-18, 307 A.2d 503, cert. denied, 269 Md. 755 (1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S. 930, 94 S.Ct. 1440, 39 L.Ed.2d 488 (1974).

A number of different rationales have been advanced to support this rule. See, e.g., United States v. Baird, 414 F.2d 700, 707 (2d Cir.1969), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 1005, 90 S.Ct. 559, 24 L.Ed.2d 497 (1970) (defendant "estopped" from asserting rights when he voluntarily initiates inquiry into his mental status); Albright, supra, 388 F.2d at 724 (examination of defendant maintains a "fair...

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