Dusky v. United States Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Despite the psychiatric testimony showing that defendant was not competent to stand to trial, defendant was convicted of a crime in a Federal District Court after it found that the defendant was oriented to time and place and has some recollection of events. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the conviction. Defendant’s counsel filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and a petition for a writ of certiorari.


Did the trial court’s refusal to appoint new counsel violate the defendants’ equal protection rights?


In a per curiam opinion, the Court granted the writ of certiorari. The court reasoned that to be competent to stand trial, a defendant must have a sufficient ability to rationally consult with his lawyer and a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings. The Court emphasized that a brief mental status exam was insufficient to pass constitutional muster. Dusky’s case was remanded for retrial.

Case Information

Citation: 362 US 402 (1960)
Decided: Apr 18, 1960
Case Brief: 1960