Segments in this Video

Crime and Insanity: Overview (02:53)


Edward Oxford attempted to shoot Queen Victoria in 1840; his case was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity. John Hinkley received a similar judgment after he shot President Ronald Reagan. Does the insanity defense shield the guilty or does it work to protect the mentally ill?

Deranged Gunman Scenario (04:07)

Charles Nesson describes a scenario in which Harvey Brink guns down politician Oscar King, the object of his deranged obsession. Lawyer Gerry Spence describes the process of sizing up this potential client.

Assessing Competency to Stand Trial (08:13)

Spence, District Attorney Mario Merola and other panelists describe the process of assessing competency. The state would hire a psychiatrist to assess whether Brink understood the nature and extent of his actions and whether he can assist in his defense. If deemed incompetent, Brink would be detained in an institution with charges pending.

Persuading the Client (05:48)

The insanity defense is the only realistic option; the lawyer needs to persuade his client that this strategy is in his best interest. The panel speculates as to why some of the most infamous killers of the 20th century did not resort to this defense.

Self-representation (08:01)

The client has a constitutional right to represent him or herself. Judges Irving Kaufman, Joan D. Klein, and Arthur Alarcon discuss judicial discretion and factors that restrict that right.

Expert Testimony (12:47)

Fuller describes what he looks for in an expert witness. Psychiatrist William Gaylin discusses practical and ethical concerns that arise from having to explain nuanced concepts to a jury; Loren Roth has fewer reservations. Doubts are raised regarding whether an “inexact science” can definitively determine guilt or innocence.

Where Should the Shooter Go? (10:11)

Panelists agree the aspect of the insanity defense that scares the public most, is the possibility that people who have the capacity to commit violent acts may be set free. Can a defendant that was deemed insane be cured to the point of safe release? Is it moral to confine a person who has been ruled not guilty?

What is Mens Rea? (03:11)

Retired Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart explains the legal principle of the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing as distinguished from the conduct of the accused. He traces the insanity defense back to English common law and the 1843 trial of Daniel M’Naghten.

Credits: Crime and Insanity (01:42)

Credits: Crime and Insanity

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Crime and Insanity

Part of the Series : Constitution: That Delicate Balance
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Is a psychiatric evaluation precise enough to be allowed as testimony in a court of law? U.S. Court of Appeals judge Irving Kaufman, Hastings Center president Willard Gaylin, and others discuss the use of psychiatry in law.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL160414

Copyright date: ©1984

Closed Captioned

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