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Riggins v. Nevada, 504 U.S. 127, 2 (1992)

Legal Research Home > United States Supreme Court > 504 U.S. > Riggins v. Nevada, 504 U.S. 127, 2 (1992)

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128

RIGGINS v. NEVADA

Syllabus

priate, by showing that an adjudication of guilt or innocence could not be obtained by using less intrusive means. However, the trial court allowed the drug's administration to continue without making any determination of the need for this course or any findings about reasonable alternatives, and it failed to acknowledge Riggins' liberty interest in freedom from antipsychotic drugs. Pp. 133-137. (c) There is a strong possibility that the trial court's error impaired Riggins' constitutionally protected trial rights. Efforts to prove or disprove actual prejudice from the record before this Court would be futile, and guesses as to the trial's outcome had Riggins' motion been granted would be speculative. While the precise consequences of forcing Mellaril upon him cannot be shown from a trial transcript, the testimony of doctors who examined Riggins establishes the strong possibility that his defense was impaired. Mellaril's side effects may have impacted not only his outward appearance, but also his testimony's content, his ability to follow the proceedings, or the substance of his communication with counsel. Thus, even if the expert testimony presented at trial allowed jurors to assess Riggins' demeanor fairly, an unacceptable risk remained that forced medication compromised his trial rights. Pp. 137-138. (d) While trial prejudice can sometimes be justified by an essential state interest, the record here contains no finding to support a conclusion that administration of antipsychotic medication was necessary to accomplish an essential state policy. P. 138.

107 Nev. 178, 808 P. 2d 535, reversed and remanded.

O'Connor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, Blackmun, Stevens, and Souter, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 138. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia, J., joined except as to Part II-A, post, p. 146.

Mace J. Yampolsky argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Jay Topkis, Neal H. Klausner, and Steven C. Herzog.

James Tufteland argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Rex Bell.*

*Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the Coalition for Fundamental Rights of Equality of Ex-patients by Peter Margulies, Herbert Semmel, and Patrick Reilly; for the National Association of Criminal

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