Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Supremes take on the insanity defense....

From SCOTUSblog:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Tomorrow's Argument in Clark v. Arizona
05:41 PM
Kimberley Morris

Since John Hinckley shot President Reagan, the country has hosted a lively debate on the place of the insanity defense and evidence of mental illness in the criminal courtroom. On Wednesday, the Court will hear arguments in No. 05-5966, Clark v. Arizona, a case that squarely revives these considerations.

The case poses two questions: (1) whether a state criminal law that permits the fact-finder to ignore evidence of mental illness when deciding if a defendant acted with the requisite mens rea of a crime violates due process; and (2) whether a state’s standard for a defense of mental insanity violates due process if it does not follow the M’Naghten Rule, which permits a defense of insanity both when the defendant was suffering from a mental illness that made him unable to appreciate the “nature and quality” of his acts and when he did not know that what he was doing was wrong.

David Goldberg of Flagstaff, Arizona, will argue on behalf of the petitioner, Eric Michael Clark. Randall M. Howe will argue on behalf of the respondent, the State of Arizona, and Solicitor General Paul Clement will argue on behalf of the United States as an amicus curiae in support of the respondent.

The parties' briefs are available here. The brief for the United States may be found here.

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