Perry v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Johnson Controls, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 89-5120
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: Louisiana Supreme Court

CITATION: 498 US 38 (1990)
ARGUED: Oct 02, 1990
DECIDED: Nov 13, 1990

Keith B. Nordyre - on behalf of the Petitioner
Rene' I. Salomon - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Perry v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 02, 1990 in Perry v. Louisiana

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument now on No. 89-5120, Michael Owen Perry v. Louisiana.

Mr. Nordyke, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Keith B. Nordyre:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The question before the Court today is whether or not the State of Louisiana may, for the sole purpose of executing an inmate, forcibly medicate a mentally ill inmate with psychotropic drugs.

The Louisiana Supreme Court, confirming conviction and sentence on direct appeal, restated that Louisiana does not execute the insane, and invited inquiry as to competency to be executed.

The trial court on its own motion determined that Mr. Perry has met the threshold test of Ford v. Wainwright as adopted by Louisiana and held a hearing to determine competency to be executed.

The result of that hearing was an order which we contend is without any limits, without any exercise of medical judgment, without review, without any ability to terminate medication, that is, without the medical approach that this Court has previously used.

That order said that the medical staff of the Louisiana State Penitentiary should medicate Mr. Perry with the drug Haldol solely for the purpose of preparing him for execution.

Mr. Perry has schizoaffective disorder, which is a major mental illness that is incurable.

There are two major components to this disorder, the first of which is a mood component... we commonly think of it as a bipolar disorder or manic depressive... and the second is a psychotic component where Mr. Perry has delusions, has auditory hallucinations, and very often does not know where he is.

It's also marked by very strong ambivalence, meaning that he cannot say consistently and know consistently from one minute to the next the same thing.

The classic example that appears throughout the record is Mr. Perry on the one hand will say, I killed my mother and my father, and within the same sentence will say, for $20,000 I'll tell you who killed my mother and my father.

The Louisiana Supreme Court initially stayed the forcible medication order in this case and then denied writ.

Under Louisiana law a writ denial is not to be considered an expression of the law.

The tension in this case as Petitioner sees it is the pitting of the... the medication model of treatment versus the punitive model of treatment.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Nordyke, there is a Louisiana statute, is there not, that deals with forcible medication of prisoners?

Keith B. Nordyre:

Yes, ma'am, title XV, section 830.1.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Was that section called to the attention of the trial court?

Keith B. Nordyre:

Your Honor, we briefed that section consistently throughout and the only time the trial court used the word was in an August 26th hearing where he ordered forcible medication and he just simply said, in accordance with 830.1, I order the forcible medication.

The problem with him simply doing that is that 830.1 sets up a whole panoply of due process protections virtually similar to the Harper decision last year.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, do you take the position that that statute governs in this situation, or should govern?

Keith B. Nordyre:

Your Honor, from day 1 in this case we have taken that precise position.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Your position being that medication is not permitted under the statute because he's not a danger to himself or others?

Keith B. Nordyre:

Your Honor, I think there are two prongs to that and it's the same two prongs that Your Honor wrote about in Harper last term.

First, we have the best interest component and secondly, the danger to self and others component.

The record in our case is absolutely barren of either.

There is no finding of best interest and no finding of danger to self or others by the trial court.

It's simply an order that calls for punishment.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

And you took this position consistently throughout all the proceedings to this Court?