Ake v. Oklahoma and an Indigent Defendant’s ‘Right’ to an Expert Witness: A Promise Denied or Imagined?

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Title:
Ake v. Oklahoma and an Indigent Defendant’s ‘Right’ to an Expert Witness: A Promise Denied or Imagined?
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Year: 
2002
Publication: 
William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal
Volume: 
10
Issue: 
Start Page: 
401
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Language: 
English
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Abstract:

The Government must provide an indigent defendant any tools necessary to prepare an adequate defense. If an indigent defendant can demonstrate that a psychiatrist will likely be necessary, then the government must provide one. While an indigent defendant has a right to a psychiatrist, it is still unclear whether the psychiatrist will act as an advocate or as a neutral party. In Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), the Supreme Court held that an indigent defendant has the right to a psychiatrist if necessary. Justice Rehnquist’s dissent in Ake wanted to grant the indigent defendant a neutral, state appointed psychiatrist. Some courts have held that compliance with Ake only requires a neutral, state appointed psychiatrist. Justice Marshall’s majority opinion in Ake requires an advocate to assist in the preparation of the defense. The outcome of Ake indicates that the psychiatrist can be used as a tool to prepare an indigent defendant’s adequate defense. Confusion has persisted because Justice Marshall also stated that an indigent defendant was entitled to an independent psychiatrist, but that the state should determine how to implement that entitlement. The ruling in Ake requires that a psychiatrist be provided for an indigent defendant that is an advocate for the defendant.

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