Expert Services and the Indigent Criminal Defendant: The Constitutional Madate of Ake v. Oklahoma

This Note attempts to define the boundaries of the indigent criminal defendant’s constitutional right to expert assistance, in the light of Ake v. Oklahoma. Part I briefly reviews the Ake decision and examines its constitutional background. Part II inquires into Ake‘s implications for experts other than psychiatrists and in contexts other than the insanity defense, arguing that the principles that guided the Ake decision have validity well beyond the facts of that case. Part III asks whether the Ake doctrine should be limited to capital cases. Rejecting such a limitation, it concludes that the right to expert assistance should extend as far as the right to counsel. Part IV examines the role of the expert, arguing that she must be a “defense consultant” rather than a “neutral expert.” Part V addresses the threshold showing a defendant must make in order to obtain access to an expert, proposing several tests under which the right to expert assistance can be evaluated.