The Supreme Court Is Being Urged To Force States To Allow Insanity defence

John DellingJohn Delling


More than a dozen law and mental health professors asked the U.S. Supreme Court this week to take up the case of a paranoid schizophrenic convicted of second-degree murder in the hopes of overturning state laws barring the insanity defence.Lawyers who prosecuted John Delling and the judge in the case agreed that his mental illness led to the crimes, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.

But Idaho doesn’t allow you to argue you were insane when you committed a crime and therefore not responsible for your actions, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Only three other states bar that defence: Kansas, Montana, and Utah.

Delling’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to hear his case in June after the Idaho Supreme Court upheld that state’s bar on the insanity defence.

In their brief supporting that petition, the professors said the insanity defence is “a matter of fundamental fairness” in a just society.

Insane defendants don’t really understand what they’re doing is wrong, the professors said. In the case of Andrea Yates, the professors noted, a mother drowned her children in a bathtub because she believed it was the right thing to do.

“She delusionally believed that she was corrupting her children and that unless she killed them, they would be tortured in hell for all eternity,” the brief stated.

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