Rock v. Arkansas

483 U.S. 44 (1987)


Rock (D) shot her husband during an argument. D could not remember what had happened, so she consented to hypnosis. D was hypnotized twice by Doctor Back, a licensed neuro-psychologist with training in the field of hypnosis. Both hypnosis sessions were recorded on tape. D did not relate any new information during either of the sessions, but, after the hypnosis, she was able to remember that at the time of the incident she had her thumb on the hammer of the gun, but had not held her finger on the trigger. She also recalled that the gun had discharged when her husband grabbed her arm during the scuffle. An expert examined the gun and determined that it was defective. He claimed that it could fire when handled despite the trigger not being pulled. The expert produced his testimony at trial, then was followed by D offering her hypnotically-refreshed testimony. The trial court excluded the recollections of D under an Arkansas law that disallowed hypnotically refreshed memory. D was convicted. D appealed, and her conviction was affirmed. The Supreme Court accepted review. D claims that her testimony was impermissibly excluded which violated her constitutional right to testify in her own defense.