Insanity on Trial

Insanity on Trial

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The insanity defense debate has come full circle, again. The current round began when John Hinckley opened fire; in 1843, it was Daniel M'Naghten who pulled the trigger; the qactsq of both would-be qinsanity acquitteesq provoked the press, the populace, a President, and a Queen to expressions of outrage, and triggered Congress, the House of Lords, judges, jurists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to debate this most maddening matter. qInsanityq -which has historically been surrounded by defenses, defen ders, and detractors-found itself once again under siege, on trial, and undergoing rigorous cross-examination. Treatises were written on the sub ject, testimony was taken, and new rules and laws were adopted. The dust has settled, but it has not cleared. What is clear to me is that we have got it wrong, once again. The qfull circleq analogy and historical parallel to M'Naghten (1843) warrant some elaboration. Hinckley's firing at the President, captured by television and rerun again and again, rekindled an old debate regarding the allegedly insane and punishment (Caplan, 1984; Maeder, 1985; Szasz, 1987), a debate in which the qinsanity defenseq is centrally situated. The smolderings ignited anew when the Hinckley (1981) jury brought in its verdict-qnot guilty by reason of insanityq (NGRI).In this regard, jurists and legal commentators have fallen back to percentage analogies and football similes: it has been said that a€œpreponderanceaquot; is equal to 51%, or just enough to tip a scale; that a€œclear and convincingaquot; is about 75%; and theanbsp;...


Title:Insanity on Trial
Author: Norman Finkel
Publisher:Springer Science & Business Media - 2012-12-06
ISBN-13:

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