Discuss the Case of Dusky Vs. United States



PSY 622 DB 3: Discuss the Case of Dusky Vs. United States 


Discuss the case of Dusky v. United States (1960) with your classmates. Using the appropriate terminology, examine the background, participants, and historical significance of the case in relation to competency assessments used in today’s forensic practice. In your discussion, provide the psychometrics of two competency assessment tools that are preferred in your competency restoration program.


Dusky Vs. United States Sample Paper 



Dusky v. United States was a landmark United States Supreme Court case. A 33 year old man, Milton Dusky, was charged with abetting in raping and kidnapping an underage girl. Milton, despite suffering from schizophrenia, he was declared competent to stand trial and eventually received a 45 years sentence. Prior to that, he was diagnosed with morbid preoccupations, hallucinations, alcoholism, and severe depression (Poortvliet, 2020). Moreover, his wife left him for his brother and also got evicted while undergoing psychiatric treatment at Veteran Affairs hospital in March 1958.  The night before the offense, Milton Dusky consumed a combination of tranquilizer pills and two pinks of vodka. The day after, he drove two of his son’s friends to visit a girl, however, on their way they bumped into a female acquaintance known to the boys and picked her up. The two boys raped her upon crossing the Missouri state lines, while Dusky attempted but failed.

All three individuals were arrested and Mr. Dusky admitted to the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri to primarily evaluate competency and sanity. Dr. L. Moreau submitted that Milton Dusky was “oriented to place, time, and person” and was refuting an “utter day’s memory” (Poortvliet, 2020). However, Dr Joseph C. Sturgell stated that Mr. Dusky was initially stable during his admission but later on experienced hallucinations with the belief that he was being framed. The conclusion was that Mr. Milton was schizophrenic and thus unable to effectively comprehend the proceedings against him and cannot aid in his defense. Mr. Dusky was found guilty and received a sentence of 45 years. In his first appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit supported the case outcome. Nonetheless, on petition of writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, the court concluded that “a federal court in which criminal proceedings are pending to make a finding regarding the mental competency of the accused to stand trial, may not make a determination that an accused is mentally competent merely because he is oriented to time and place and has some recollection of events” (Juvenile Competency, 2020). The case was remanded for retrial and sentence reduced by 25 years.

Historical Significance

This case aided in the establishment of the current standard for adjudicative competence in the United States’ law enforcement. The two primary elements determined by the court’s decision included the defendant ought to comprehend the charges against him and possess the ability to assist his attorney in his own defend. The M’Naghten’s rule ought to be utilized to determine an individual’s sanity at the time of the crime.

Competence Tools

The two primary competency assessment tools that are preferred for the competency restoration include the Competency Screening Test (CST) and the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA). The CST assessment, a psycholegal concept, was designed to address the avoidable pretrial commitment and detention of people charged with various crimes but likely to be judged fit to stand trial (Criminal Justice, 2020).  This process is conducted among criminal justice victims to guarantee they are competent to stand trial and respond effectively to the charges leveled against them. The MacCAT-CA assessment tool was designed to determine an individual’s decision-making capacity (Criminal Justice, 2020). Both assessment tools would have aided in determining the mental state of Dusky on whether he was capable of standing trial.





Poortvliet, K. (2020). “Dusky v. United States: Case, Summary & Facts.” Retrieved from: https://study.com/academy/lesson/dusky-v-united-states-case-summaryfacts.html This study source was downloaded by 100000826843483 from CourseHero.com on 05-26-2021 15:54:26 GMT -05:00 https://www.coursehero.com/file/78824226/PSY-622-DB-3docx/ T

Criminal Justice. (2020). “Competency Screening Test (CST).” Retrieved from: http://criminal-justice.iresearchnet.com/forensic-psychology/competencyscreening-test-cst/

Juvenile Competency. (2020). “Dusky v. United States, 362, U.S. 402 (1960).” Retrieved from: https://juvenilecompetency.virginia.edu/legal-precedents/dusky-vunited-states.


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