1254 users online (267 members and 987 guests)  


The Killing Season - Websleuths

Websleuths News


Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    shadowraiths's Avatar
    shadowraiths is offline LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Specialist, infoSec Architect
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,792

    Mental Illness, Criminality and the Legal Process

    There are two areas where mental illness may factor in wrt the legal process within the context of the Criminal Justice System. One, is the NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity) defense, often simply referred to as the "insanity defense" and the other is competency to proceed. That is, competency to waive miranda rights, competency to stand trial, competency to be sentenced, competency to waive appeals, and competency to be put to death.

    Bc the issue of mental illness is so often raised in high profile crimes such as this, and especially, in this case, it is my opinion that the issue of not only NGRI but competency will be repeatedly raised. For this reason, I have started this thread to specifically discuss mental illness as it relates to the legal system, and within the context of this case.

    Importantly, this thread is to clarify the process and tease out the gray areas, for those following this tragic case. For example, what is put forth to support/dispute NGRI? Similar for competency.

    That said, and for reference, here is an excellent memorandum (from the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services) on Colorado Law with regard to both NGRI and Competency. ( link )



    Forensic Psychology Portal

    I tend to disappear from Websleuths from time to time.
    If I do, you can usually find me on
    Twitter.


  2. #2
    shadowraiths's Avatar
    shadowraiths is offline LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Specialist, infoSec Architect
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,792

    A history walk down NGRI lane

    NGRI (not guilty by reason of insanity):

    From Black's Law Dictionary, 1087, 7th Ed. (1999)

    1. A not guilty verdict, based on mental illness, that usu. does not release the defendant but instead results in commitment to a mental institution. 2. A criminal defendant's plea of not guilty that is based on the insanity defense. -- Abbr. NGRI -- Also termed not guilty on the grounds of insanity

    NGRI is based upon the McNaghten ruling [1] wherein Tindal instructed the jury:

    "If upon balancing the evidence in your minds you should think the prisoner a person capable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to the act of which he stands charged, he is then a responsible agent."

    McNaghten, acquitted on the grounds of insanity, was on trial for the attempted murder of then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel. He mistakenly shot and killed Drummond, Peel's secretary, instead.

    From The Oxford Companion to Law, 1980, Watkins defined the McNaghten rule as follows:

    (1) Persons acting under the influence of an insane delusion are punishable if they knew at the time of committing the crime that they were acting contrary to law.

    (2) Every man is presumed sane and to have sufficient reason to be held responsible for his crimes.

    (3) To establish a defense on the ground of insanity it must be clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong. If the accused was conscious that the act was one that he ought not to do, and if the act was at the same time contrary to the law of the land, he is punishable.

    (4) A person under a partial delusion is to be considered as if the facts with respect to which the delusion exists were real.

    It was further refined by Perkins & Boyce in Criminal Law 959-60 (3d ed.1982):

    Four points stand out and should be understood whenever reference to M'Naghten is made other than in regard to procedure. (1) It applies only in case of 'a defect of reason, from disease of the mind' and without this the following do not apply except that 'disease' as so used will be interpreted to include congenital defect or traumatic injury. (2) If, because of this 'defect of reason,' the defendant did not know what he was doing he is guilty of crime. (3) Even if the defendant knew what he was doing he is not guilty of crime if, because of this 'defect of reason,' he did not know he was doing wrong. (4) If the defendant acted under an insane delusion, and was not otherwise insane, his accountability to the criminal law is the same as if the facts were as they seemed to him to be.

    Moran, author of Knowing Right from Wrong: The Insanity Defense of Daniel McNaghten 1981 [Reprint 1986], states on p 132:

    There are six factors that must be analyzed to prove insanity according to McNaghten: the nature of the offender's mental illness, the degree of the functional impairment, the offender's need for treatment and availability, the offender's prognosis for rehabilitation, the offender's current and future dangerousness, and the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of the illegal act

    Even so, and before McNaghten, the concept of NGRI was not new. For example, consider the "Hale test" [2] of the 1700s:

    "such a person as labouring under melancholy distempers hath yet ordinarily as great understanding, as ordinarily a child of fourteen years hath, is such a person as may be guilty of treason or felony."

    The widely accepted 18th century view, as defined by Tracy [3], that a man cannot not be held accountable if he:

    "is totally deprived of his understanding and memory, and doth not know what he is doing, no more than an infant, than a brute, or a wild beast."

    The "Hale test" was successfully applied as late as 1800 [4] where Lord Kenyon argued:

    "if a man is completely deranged so that he knows not what he does, if he is lost to all sense so that he cannot distinguish good from evil, and cannot judge of the consequences of his actions then he cannot be guilty of crime because the will, which to a certain extent is the essence of every crime, is wanting."

    What differentiated McNaghten from previous cases was that he did not quite meet the parameters of the "Hale test." That is, McNaghten was not viewed as "a brute, or wild beast." The question with regard to his case involved what psychologist today might classify as a delusional disorder with paranoid features, rather than earlier viewed mental incapacitance. For example Moran [5] notes that McNaghten claimed:

    "The Tories in my home city have compelled me to do this. They harassed and persecuted me, hoping to kill me,"


    Footnotes:

    1) Rex v. McNaghten, 1843 England 8 Eng. Rep. 718; 10 C. & F. 200, 210

    2) 1 Hale P.C. 30

    3) (1724) 16 St. Tr. 695

    4) R. v. Hadfield [(1800) 27 St. Tr. 1281

    5) Moran R, Knowing Right from Wrong:The Insanity Defense of Daniel McNaghten, 1981 [Reprint 2000]. p 10



    Forensic Psychology Portal

    I tend to disappear from Websleuths from time to time.
    If I do, you can usually find me on
    Twitter.


  3. #3
    shadowraiths's Avatar
    shadowraiths is offline LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Specialist, infoSec Architect
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    2,792

    Duty to warn and civil liability

    See Fredericks v. Jonsson, 609 F. 3d 1096 - Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit 2010 ( link ) refers to ( link ):

    13-21-117. Civil liability - mental health care providers - no duty

    A physician, social worker, psychiatric nurse, psychologist, or other mental health professional and a mental health hospital, community mental health center or clinic, institution, or their staff shall not be liable for damages in any civil action for failure to warn or protect any person against a mental health patient's violent behavior, and any such person shall not be held civilly liable for failure to predict such violent behavior, except where the patient has communicated to the mental health care provider a serious threat of imminent physical violence against a specific person or persons. When there is a duty to warn and protect under the circumstances specified above, the duty shall be discharged by the mental health care provider making reasonable and timely efforts to notify any person or persons specifically threatened, as well as notifying an appropriate law enforcement agency or by taking other appropriate action including, but not limited to, hospitalizing the patient. A physician, social worker, psychiatric nurse, psychologist, or other mental health professional and a mental health hospital, community mental health center or clinic, institution, or their staff shall not be liable for damages in any civil action for warning any person against or predicting a mental health patient's violent behavior, and any such person shall not be subject to professional discipline for such warning or prediction. For the purposes of this section, "psychiatric nurse" means a registered professional nurse as defined in section 12-38-103(11), C.R.S., who by virtue of postgraduate education and additional nursing preparation has gained knowledge, judgment, and skill in psychiatric or mental health nursing. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the negligent release of a mental health patient from any mental health hospital or ward or to the negligent failure to initiate involuntary seventy-two-hour treatment and evaluation after a personal patient evaluation determining that the person appears to have a mental illness and, as a result of the mental illness, appears to be an imminent danger to others.



    Forensic Psychology Portal

    I tend to disappear from Websleuths from time to time.
    If I do, you can usually find me on
    Twitter.




Similar Threads

  1. Mental Illness Over-Diagnosed?
    By BetteDavisEyes in forum Up to the Minute
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 03-17-2013, 04:22 AM