Kansas v. Cheever


When a defendant presents expert testimony that he was not in the required mental-state to commit a capital offense because of methamphetamine use, does the State violate the defendant’s right against self-incrimination by presenting rebuttal testimony based on a court-ordered mental evaluation of the defendant?

Court below: 

After he shot and killed Sheriff Matthew Samuels, Scott Cheever argued that his habitual use of methamphetamines prevented him from forming the necessary mental intent to commit capital murder. The State initially filed its case in federal court after Kansas temporarily abolished the death penalty. In federal court Cheever presented the defense of voluntary intoxication, which is not recognized as a mental disease or defect defense in Kansas, and used expert testimony to support his defense. The federal court ordered Cheever to undergo a mental evaluation. Later, Kansas reinstated the death penalty and the State asked the federal court to send the case to state court. In state court, Kansas used the results of Cheever's mental evaluation to rebut his voluntary intoxication defense. Cheever argues that this evidence should not have been presented because he did not intend to waive his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he presented his mental status defense in state court. Kansas argues that by presenting mental health testimony, Cheever voluntarily opened the door to rebuttal testimony based on the court-ordered mental health exam. This case will address the role of state law in a defendant’s waiver of the federal constitutional right against self-incrimination. It will also impact prosecutors’ ability to rebut a defendant’s testimony in light of the Fifth Amendment. The issues in this case implicate questions of federalism and constitutional rights.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 
  1. When a criminal defendant 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, does the State violate 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?
  2. When a criminal defendant testifies in his own defense, does the State violate the Fifth Amendment by impeaching such testimony with evidence from a court-ordered mental evaluation of the defendant?



On January 19, 2005, Scott D. Cheever shot and killed Greenwood County Sheriff Matthew Samuels near Hilltop, Kansas. See Kansas v. Cheever,284 P.3d 1007, 1014 (Kan. 2012). Cheever and four others were cooking and using methamphetamine in the early morning before the police arrived at the home.

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