Clark v. Arizona

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Clark v. Arizona
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued April 19, 2006
Decided June 29, 2006
Full case name Eric Michael Clark v. State of Arizona
Docket nos. 05-5966
Citations 548 U.S. 735 (more)
126 S.Ct. 2709; 2006 U.S. LEXIS 5184; 2006 WL 1764372
Prior history Defendant convicted, Coconino County Superior Court, Sept. 3, 2003; affirmed, Ariz. Ct. App., Jan. 25, 2005; review denied, Ariz., May 25, 2005; cert. granted, 126 S. Ct. 797 (2005)
Due process does not prohibit Arizona's use of an insanity test stated solely in terms of the capacity to tell whether an act charged as a crime was right or wrong. The state could also constitutionally limit a defendant's evidence of mental defect to only what is relevant to that insanity test, even when mens rea is an element of the charged crime. Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Souter, joined by Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito; Breyer except parts III-B, III-C, and ultimate disposition
Concur/dissent Breyer
Dissent Kennedy, joined by Stevens, Ginsburg
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. XIV; Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-502(A)

Clark v. Arizona, 548 U.S. 735 (2006), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of the insanity defense used by the State of Arizona. The ruling affirmed the murder conviction of a man with paranoid schizophrenia, for the killing of a police officer. The man had argued that his inability to understand the nature of his acts at the time they were committed should be a sufficient basis for showing he lacked the requisite mental state required as an element of the charged crime. The Court upheld Arizona's restriction of admissible mental health evidence only to the issue of insanity. Arizona does not allow mental health evidence to show that the defendant did not possess the required mental intent level necessary to satisfy an element of the crime. The evidence is only admissible if used to show that the defendant was insane at the time of the crime's commission. In this case, the defendant knew right from wrong so he could not qualify under Arizona's insanity defense.

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