Estelle v. Smith (1981)
On December 28, 1973, Ernest Benjamin Smith was arrested for murder as a result of an armed robbery in a grocery store in which a clerk was fatally shot by Smith’s accomplice. The state of Texas decided to seek the death penalty. Smith was interviewed by Dr. Grigson, a psychiatrist, for approximately 90 min, to determine whether or not he was competent to stand trial. Dr. Grigson found that Smith was competent to stand trial. Smith was charged and convicted of capital murder. During the sentencing phase, Dr. Grigson underwent direct examination before the jury and testified that Smith was a “very severe sociopath” and that “he will continue his previous behavior and that his sociopathic behavior will ‘only get worse.’” Dr. Grigson also testified that Smith had no “regard for another human being’s property or for their life, regardless of who it may be,” that there is “no treatment … that in any way at all modifies or changes this behavior,” that he “is going to go ahead and...
References and Readings
- Denney, R. L., & Sullivan, J. P. (2008). Constitutional, judicial, and practice foundations of criminal, forensic neuropsychology. In R. Denney & J. Sullivan (Eds.), Clinical neuropsychology in the criminal forensic setting. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Dusky v. U.S. 262 U.S. 402 (1960).Google Scholar
- Estelle v. Smith, 451 U.S. 454 (1981).Google Scholar
- Weissman, H. N., & DeBow, D. M. (2003). Ethical principles and professional competencies. In A. Goldstein (Ed.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 11). Forensic psychology. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar