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Barefoot v. Estelle

463 U.S. 880 (1983)

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Barefoot v. Estelle

United States Supreme Court

463 U.S. 880 (1983)

Facts

After Thomas Barefoot (defendant) was convicted of murdering a police officer in Texas, a sentencing hearing was conducted in front of a jury to determine whether Barefoot would receive the death penalty. The prosecution (plaintiff) called two psychiatrists to testify even though they had never examined Barefoot before. The psychiatrists answered hypothetical questions about Barefoot and testified that he would probably continue to be violent and represent a threat to society. The jury imposed the death penalty. Barefoot appealed, arguing that (1) psychiatrists cannot predict the future actions of defendants with accuracy, and (2) psychiatrists cannot decide future dangerousness by answering hypothetical questions without having examined the defendant.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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