Sunday, December 22, 2013

Drope v. Missouri case brief

Drope v. Missouri case brief summary
420 U.S. 162 (1975)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari to review a decision of the Court of Appeals of Missouri for the St. Louis District that rejected petitioner's claim that he was denied due process of law by the conduct of a portion of his state criminal trial in his absence, and by the failure of the state trial court to order a psychiatric examination with respect to his competence to stand trial.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner was indicted for the forcible rape of his wife. Defense counsel filed a motion for a continuance in order that petitioner might be examined and receive psychiatric treatment. Respondent assistant circuit attorney did not oppose the motion for a psychiatric examination. No action was taken on the motion and the case proceeded to trial. During the course of the trial, petitioner shot himself in the stomach and did not appear at court. The state trial court proceeded without petitioner and a jury returned a verdict of guilty. Subsequently, the appellate court rejected petitioner's claim that he was denied due process of law by the conduct of his criminal trial in his absence and by the failure of the trial court to order a psychiatric examination.

DISCUSSION

  • Upon writ of certiorari, the court reversed the appellate court decision and remanded the case to allow the state to retry petitioner if he was found competent to stand trial. 
  • The court found that the trial court failed to give proper weight to the information suggesting petitioner's incompetence, and as such, the trial court should have suspended the trial until a proper evaluation of petitioner's competence was made.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed an appellate court decision that rejected petitioner's claims that he was denied due process by the conduct of a portion of his state criminal trial in his absence, and by the failure of the state trial court to order a psychiatric examination with respect to his competence to stand trial. The court remanded the case to allow the state to retry petitioner if, at the time of such trial, he was found competent to stand trial.

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