Logourl black
From our private database of 14,000+ case briefs...

Smith v. Murray

United States Supreme Court
477 U.S. 527 (1986)


Facts

Smith (defendant) was convicted of murder. At the request of defense counsel, the trial court appointed a private psychiatrist to evaluate Smith. During his examination, Smith eventually told the psychiatrist about a prior deviant sexual act he had committed. The psychiatrist diagnosed Smith with “sociopathic personality, sexual deviation.” The psychiatrist never told Smith that the sessions would not remain confidential, and he forwarded all the information to the trial court. Over Smith’s objections, during sentencing, the state called the psychiatrist to testify to his findings and to what Smith had told him. Smith was sentenced to death. On appeal, the state supreme court affirmed Smith’s conviction and sentence. While he raised several different claims, Smith did not raise the issue of the inadmissibility of the psychiatrist’s testimony. Later, Smith’s attorney explained that he purposefully excluded that claim because, based on state law at the time, he did not believe the claim would be successful. Smith then petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus from the state courts. Here, for the first time since his objection at trial, Smith argued that the admission of the psychiatrist’s testimony violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The court held that Smith had lost his chance to make this argument when he failed to argue it in the earlier proceedings. Smith then sought a writ of habeas corpus in federal court. The petition was dismissed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

The dissent section is for members only and includes a summary of the dissenting judge or justice’s opinion.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 175,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.