Vitek v. Jones

LOCATION: Criminal Court of Fulton County

DOCKET NO.: 77-888
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 436 US 407 (1978)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1978
DECIDED: May 23, 1978

Melvin Kent Kammerlohr -
Thomas A. Wurtz -

Facts of the case

Legislative consolidation of the possibility of applying medical measures in relation to a person who has committed socially dangerous acts provided for by criminal law objectively reflects the concern of the legislator about the possible negative consequences of detecting certain diseases in such a person. The logic of such anxiety is simple: a number of diseases are known to medicine, which is dangerous both for society as a whole and for a particular person.

It is for this reason that the legislator, subjecting a person to a punishment, must take measures of medical protection. Forced treatment is a special kind of state coercion, a special measure of social protection against the actions of mentally ill people. To prisoners sentenced to deprivation of liberty, suffering from mental disorders that do not exclude sanity, the court decree applies compulsory measures of a medical nature by institutions that carry out these types of punishment. This measure was the basis for this case brief.

In the framework of this case study, the inmate was found to be mentally ill and to be transferred to a psychiatric institution for further treatment. However, all procedures were carried out without prior warning of the convicted person and his lawyer, and without further hearing the case. The case was reviewed by the Supreme Court, and the court ruled that such actions really violate the constitutional order, and also restrict the rights and freedoms of the prisoner. This precedent allowed the development of a new criminal procedure regulating the transfer of a prisoner to a clinic for psychiatric treatment, observing his rights as a prisoner, patient, and citizen.


Media for Vitek v. Jones

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1978 in Vitek v. Jones

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 23, 1978 in Vitek v. Jones

Warren E. Burger:

In 77-888 --