Does the Notice Requirement of Rule 31.4 Serve Legitimate State Interests In Protecting Against Undue Delay ?
In Johnson v. State, 262 Ga. 527, 529 (422 S.E.2d 648) (1992), the Supreme Court stated:
It is important to note that to the extent the notice provisions of Rules 31.1 and 31.4 operate to prevent a criminal defendant from presenting relevant evidence, the defendant's ability to confront adverse witnesses and present a defense is diminished.
Thus, the rules unquestionably implicate the Sixth Amendment.
That is not to say that rules of exclusion are unenforceable.
The right to present relevant testimony is not without limitation.
The right may in appropriate cases bow to accommodate other legitimate interests in the criminal trial process.
The notice requirement of Rule 31.4 undoubtedly serves legitimate state interests in protecting against surprise and undue delay, given the state's difficulty in responding to defense psychiatric testimony without its own expert evaluation of the defendant.
Hence, failure to comply with the notice requirement may in some cases justify even the severe sanction of preclusion.
However, the trial court must consider whether the state's legitimate interests may be satisfied without resort to the preclusion of what might be the defendant's only defense. Id. at 529-530 (1).
In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that the State was not completely surprised by the psychological testimony, and the record did not demonstrate that permitting the excluded evidence would have worked to delay the trial or compromised the State's ability to respond. Id. at 530.