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Rock v. Arkansas

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 549 U.S. 877 127 S. Ct. 360 166 L. Ed. 2d 134 2006 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. The petitioner, Rock (the “petitioner”), was charged with manslaughter for shooting her husband, and sought to introduce her own testimony that had been refreshed by hypnosis. An expert witness corroborated the petitioner’s refreshed testimony that the gun was defective. The trial court ruled that hypnotically refreshed testimony was inadmissible per se and the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The state’s legitimate interest in barring unreliable evidence does not justify a per se exclusion because the evidence may be reliable in an individual case.


Facts. During a domestic dispute, the petitioner shot her husband. Because she could not remember the precise details of the incident she submitted to hypnosis by a licensed hypnotherapist. After the hypnosis, the petitioner recalled that she did not have her finger on the trigger when the gun fired during a scuffle. An inspection by an expert revealed that the gun was defective. The trial court ruled that no hypnotically refreshed testimony would be admitted. The Supreme Court of Arkansas upheld the conviction, ruling that hypnotically refreshed testimony was inadmissible per se.

Issue. Does an evidentiary rule prohibiting the admission of hypnotically refreshed testimony per se violate a defendant’s right to testify on her own behalf?

Content Type: Brief


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