|Scott Cheever. Photo from HutchPost.|
Background: Cheever was charged with murder in federal court for the death of a law enforcement officer. Cheever intended to claim that although he killed the sheriff, he was intoxicated (by methamphetamine). As a result, the judge ordered a mental examination. The federal charges were later dismissed and reinstated in Kansas state court, where Cheever raised the same intoxication claim and presented an expert witness on his behalf. In response, prosecutors called the doctor who had examined Cheever in the federal case as a witness to testify that Cheever was not impaired at the time of the crime. Cheever was convicted and sentenced to death. The Kansas Supreme Court reversed the conviction, ruling that the admission of the doctor's testimony violated Cheever’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Issue: The question before the Court was whether, when a criminal defendant who affirmatively introduces expert testimony that he lacked the requisite mental state to commit capital murder of a law enforcement officer due to the alleged temporary and long-term effects of the defendant’s methamphetamine use, the state violates the defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination by rebutting the defendant’s mental state defense with evidence from a court-ordered mental evaluation of the defendant.