Supreme Court Decision

Supreme Court Decision

The purpose of this assignment is to analyze the psychological reasoning used by the Supreme Court in a decision relevant to forensic psychology. This assignment will help you to differentiate the mechanics of the legal system and distinguish the relationship between law and psychology, both of which are crucial to a forensic psychologist.


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In this paper, you are to analyze a Supreme Court decision related to the field of forensic psychology (for instance, competency to stand trial, child custody, or violence risk assessment). Choose from the list of decisions included in Supreme Court Decisions (linked in Resources). –

Estella Vs. Smith

Being able to make know the difference between right and wrong is some thing that we all grew up learning, For some of us the lesson begins at the tender age of 2, where some believes as a young child we have the capability of understanding. As we grow up the choice becomes ours. Here in the united states at the tender of age of 18 we age considered adult. We are able to choose where we live, go to school, our friends/ the company that we keep. For some; this Is not the case. For some we as the people hold there future/ freedom when they choose to do the wrong thing. For example- “Estelle VS. Smith”. Here the choice of wrong and right plays a huge part as well as one sound state of mind. As we all know Mental Health is a big taboo and not many like to talk about it. Here in this case one’s right of mind comes into play. Now the real question is can forensic Psychology should and can play the part (Robert L. Heilbronner 558).

One is not able to know or judge someone state of mind in 90 minutes. In the world of Metal Health all aspect of one being is take into consideration. Lets put into perspective the day that Mr. Smith went in for evaluation. Mr. Smith himself has also been through a traumatic event, even though he was not the main victim. One may argue however! Mr. Smith can and should be labeled as one due to his state of mind.

With Forensic Psychology being allowed into our court system, there needs to be a better system and understand. A 90 minutes exam is not enough. As a clinician myself as well as first hand experience in the word of Mental Health, I can say it is a longer process than meets the eye.

In the mental health field in order for an individual to receive a full psychological evaluation, there is a process which is much longer than ninety minutes. In my opinion, I do believe that for one to be sentenced to death due to an armed robbery crime that result in the death of another then such a defendant should be given an opportunity to receive full psychiatric evaluation by a competent psychiatrics. During the evaluation the psychiatrics will and should be able to assess the defendant by looking through his background as well as challenges that might have been faced when growing up. Personally, I do think that if the psychiatrics who evaluated Mr. Smith did look into his background if he find some information that might be able to alleviate the death sentence.

According to David Surface in Social Work Today, for a client to be fully competent to stand trial, there are two major processes involved. The first being the ability for the client to know and understand the severity of the charges being held against him. The client should be able to differentiate between pleading guilt or not as well as understand what it means to accept a plea bargain (David Surface. 2007). The client needs to understand right or wrong. Is the client competent enough to understand the charges held against him as well as understand the consequences? I don’t think so.

The second that is involved in understand a client competency to stand trial is the question of whether or not the client is able to work hand in hand with his legal team. If the client is unable to play an active role in his trial then the client competency level to stand trial should be question (David Surface. 2007). And in doing so this process should take some weeks and not ninety minutes.

As for Estella vs. Smith, Mr. Smith was not tried fairly as his fifth amendment right was violated. According to his case file, he was not informed that he had the ability to remain silent and that any statement uttered can be used against during the trial or sentencing if found guilty.


Robert L. Heilbronner (558). (1970, January 01). Estelle v. Smith (1981). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from

State of Mind: Evaluating Competency to Stand Trial

By David Surface (2007). Company, I. G. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from

Competency to Stand Trial: What Forensic Psychologists Need to Know. (2015, December 01). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from