Riggins v. Nevada, 504 U.S. 127, 3 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 127 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

Justice O'Connor delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner David Riggins challenges his murder and robbery convictions on the ground that the State of Nevada un-constitutionally forced an antipsychotic drug upon him during trial. Because the Nevada courts failed to make findings sufficient to support forced administration of the drug, we reverse.


During the early hours of November 20, 1987, Paul Wade was found dead in his Las Vegas apartment. An autopsy revealed that Wade died from multiple stab wounds, including wounds to the head, chest, and back. David Riggins was arrested for the killing 45 hours later.

A few days after being taken into custody, Riggins told Dr. R. Edward Quass, a private psychiatrist who treated patients at the Clark County Jail, about hearing voices in his head and having trouble sleeping. Riggins informed Dr. Quass that he had been successfully treated with Mellaril in the past. Mellaril is the trade name for thioridazine, an antipsychotic drug. After this consultation, Dr. Quass prescribed Mellaril at a level of 100 milligrams per day. Because Riggins continued to complain of voices and sleep problems in the following months, Dr. Quass gradually increased the Mellaril prescription to 800 milligrams per day. Riggins also received a prescription for Dilantin, an antiepileptic drug.

In January 1988, Riggins successfully moved for a determination of his competence to stand trial. App. 6. Three

Defense Lawyers by David M. Eldridge; and for Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice by Kevin M. Kelly.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the State of Louisiana et al. by William J. Guste, Jr., Attorney General of Louisiana, and M. Patricia Jones and Kathleen E. Petersen, Assistant Attorneys General, and by the Attorneys General for their respective States as follows: Charles M. Oberly III of Delaware and Michael E. Carpenter of Maine; and for the American Psychiatric Association by Richard G. Taranto and Joel I. Klein.


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