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Rock v. Arkansas

United States Supreme Court
483 U.S. 44 (1987)



Vickie Rock (defendant) was charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband. The incident stemmed from an argument between the two that became physical. At first, Rock could not recall the exact circumstances that led to the shooting. However, after being hypnotized by Dr. Back, Rock recalled that she had never pulled the trigger, but the gun had accidentally discharged when her husband grabbed her arm during the fight. The trial court listened to a recording of the hypnosis and determined that Dr. Back was objective and did not ask Rock leading questions during the hypnosis. Additionally, an inspection of the gun indicated that it was defective and had a tendency to go off without the trigger being pulled. Rock sought to testify to her post-hypnosis recollection about the incident at trial. However, the trial court excluded all of Rock’s testimony to recollections she had after the hypnosis and limited her testimony to what she had recalled prior to the hypnosis, which was recorded in the hypnotist’s pre-hypnosis notes. As a result of this exclusion, the trial court convicted Rock. The Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider the constitutionality of Arkansas' per se prohibition on admitting a criminal defendant's hypnotically refreshed testimony.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, C.J.)

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