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State v. Pilkington

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Logan

May 14, 2018


          Appeal from Logan County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CR 15 08 0225

          Marc S. Triplett, Tina McFall and Kort Gatterdam for Appellant.

          Eric C. Stewart for Appellee.


          WILLAMOWSKI, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Brittany R. Pilkington ("Pilkington") brings this appeal from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Logan County ordering her to submit to a psychological evaluation. Pilkington challenges the judgment on the grounds that it violates her constitutional rights. For the reasons set forth below, the judgment is affirmed.

         {¶2} On August 25, 2015, the Logan County Grand Jury indicted Pilkington on three counts of aggravated murder, each with two death penalty specifications. Doc. 1. Pilkington filed a motion to suppress her prior statements on April 1, 2016. Doc. 201. A continuance of the suppression hearing was granted on July 19, 2016, with the hearing being set to occur in October of 2016. Doc. 238. On October 11, 2016, Pilkington filed a supplement to her motion to suppress raising additional arguments. Doc. 263. The hearing was held on October 18 and 19, 2016. Doc. 287. The State then filed it response on October 24, 2016 to the motion to suppress. Doc. 274. Pilkington filed her rebuttal to the State's response on October 28, 2016. Doc. 275. The trial court ruled on the motion to suppress on November 18, 2016. Doc. 287. The trial court found that in this case, "the interrogations were objectively coercive police activity. Id. at 3. The trial court based this upon the length of the interrogations, the way Pilkington was treated by the officers, and the fact that requests by Pilkington to speak to her mental health counselor were ignored. Id. However, the trial court determined that although there was hearsay testimony regarding Pilkington's limited mental abilities, there was no direct evidence that her will was overborn. Id. at 4-5. The trial court then denied the motion to suppress. Id. . at 5.

         {¶3} On July 10, 2017, Pilkington filed a motion to reopen the evidence and present a second supplement to the motion to suppress her statements given to the police. Doc. 343. The motion was based upon the opinions of experts after additional psychological and neuropsychological evaluations. Id. The State filed its response to the motion on July 31, 2017. Doc. 345. Pilkington's rebuttal to the State's response was filed on August 7, 2017. Doc. 346. On August 10, 2017, the trial court granted Pilkington's request. Doc. 347.

         {¶4} On August 21, 2017, a status conference was held. Doc. 352. At that hearing, the parties discussed having Pilkington evaluated by the State's expert. Id. The trial court granted the State leave to file a motion. Id. On September 6, 2017, the State filed its motion to have Pilkington evaluated for her competency to waive her Miranda Rights, an IQ test, and any other evaluations deemed necessary. Doc. 353. Pilkington filed her memorandum in opposition to the State's motion on September 12, 2017. Doc. 354. On September 14, 2017, the trial court determined that since Pilkington's state of mind had been made an issue by the defense, the State was entitled to an independent evaluation. Doc. 356. However, the trial court ordered that the "evaluator shall not ask any questions regarding the facts and circumstances of the alleged offenses." Id. at 2. On September 27, 2017, the trial court ordered Pilkington to "submit to a psychological evaluation to address her competency to waive Miranda rights on August 18, 2015, the voluntariness of her statements to law enforcement on August 18, 2015, an IQ test (if necessary), and to review issues raised by the defense experts". Doc. 359. On October 2, 2017, Pilkington filed her notice of appeal from these judgments. Doc. 363. Pilkington raises the following assignment of error on appeal.

The trial court erred in granting the State's motion to have [Pilkington] psychologically evaluated and [Pilkington's] compelled participation in the psychological evaluation will violate her rights guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 10 of the Ohio Constitution.

         {¶5} The sole assignment of error questions whether the trial court erred by requiring Pilkington to submit to a psychological evaluation as requested by the State. Pilkington's argument is that the State's request that she submit to a psychological evaluation would be similar to compelling her to answer questions without counsel and would violate her Sixth Amendment right to counsel and her Fifth Amendment right not to be compelled to offer evidence against herself. Both sides admit that there is no statutory or case law that is directly on point for the facts before us. Thus, we are addressing an issue of first impression.

It is central to that principle that in addition to counsel's presence at trial, the accused is guaranteed that he need not stand alone against the State at any stage of the prosecution, formal or informal, in court or out, where counsel's absence might derogate from the accused's right to a fair trial. The security of that right is as much the aim of the right to counsel as it is of the other guarantees of the Sixth Amendment-the right of the accused to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, his right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, and his right to be confronted with the witnesses against him and to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor. The presence of counsel at such critical confrontations, as at the trial itself, operates to assure that the accused's interests will be protected consistently with our adversary theory of criminal prosecution.

U.S. v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 226-27, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149 (1967) (footnote of citations omitted). "A criminal defendant, who neither initiates a psychiatric evaluation nor attempts to introduce any psychiatric evidence, may not be compelled to respond to a psychiatrist if his statements can be used against him at a capital sentencing proceeding." Estelle v. Smith, 451 U.S. 454, 468, 101 S.Ct. 1866, 63 L.Ed.2d 359 (1981). However, "if a defendant requests such an evaluation or presents psychiatric evidence, then, at the very least, the prosecution may rebut this presentation with evidence from the reports of the examination that the defendant requested." Buchanan v. Kentucky, 483 U.S. 402, 422-23, 107 S.Ct. 2906, 97 L.Ed.2d 336 (1987).

         {¶6} In an analogous case, the Supreme Court of Ohio has held that when a defendant demonstrates an intention to use expert testimony from a psychiatric examination at trial, the trial court may compel the defendant to submit to an examination by the State's expert. State v. Goff, 128 Ohio St.3d 169, 2010-Ohio-6317, 942 N.E.2d 1075. In Goff, the defendant wished to establish an affirmative defense of self-defense by establishing that she suffered from battered-woman syndrome which caused her to be in fear of imminent danger. Id. The Court cited with approval to State v. Manning (74 Ohio App.3d 19, 598 N.E.2d 25 (1991)) in which the Ninth Appellate District held that "[w]hen a defendant introduces psychiatric evidence and places her state of mind directly at issue, as here, she can be compelled to submit to a[n] independent examination by a state psychiatrist." Manning at 24. After reviewing the case law from other jurisdictions, the Goff Court concluded that a court can compel a defendant who has demonstrated an intent to use expert testimony from a psychiatric examination to submit to another examination by an expert of the State's choosing. Goff at ¶ 58.

By putting her mental state directly at issue and introducing expert testimony based upon her own statements to the expert, the defendant opens the door to a limited examination by the state's expert concerning battered-woman syndrome and its effect on the defendant's behavior. Courts have the inherent authority to preserve fairness in the trial process, and allowing the defendant to present expert testimony on the specific effects of battered-woman syndrome on the defendant while denying the prosecution the ability to ...

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