Talk:Insanity defense

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Insanity defense only for murder?[edit]

At the bottom of the first section it says "If diminished responsibility or capacity is presented convincingly, the charges may be reduced to the lesser offense of manslaughter or the sentence may be more lenient." What it the crime being tried isn't murder? That's sort of presumptuous. (talk) 07:39, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

This has been deleted — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kidsankyran (talkcontribs) 01:19, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

Old comments[edit]

To a non-lawyer, this page is now looking to be a real mish-mash of general principles, US case law and history in various jurisdictions.

Wouldn't it be better as

  • general principle (insanity)
  • history/case law US
  • history/case law GB


  • general principle (intoxication)
  • history/case law US
  • history/case law GB



jimfbleak 13:21 16 Jun 2003 (UTC)


Disorganized content[edit]

I changed "defenss" back to defenses. I don't know why it was changed. C Yes, this article on the insanity defense does seem to be a little disorganized. Maybe the opening paragraph should not bring in the idea of an "incompetence defense." Later in the article, incompetence is distinguished from insanity, but incompetence seems to be at the time of the trial, whereas insanity is at the time of the crime. I don't know it both ideas need to be in this article.

Also, there seems to be too many major headings toward the end. Maybe all the rules, acts and tests at the end could be put in chronological order in a section called History of the law."

Just an idea from a non-lawyer. Norm2 July 17, 2003.

Yes, it's completely disorganised and is poorly referenced. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:44, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

I also agree. How would you propose to organize it better? I'm not fond of the "History of the Law" idea, because that implies that there's a single stature defining the defense, but in actuality, different countries have different laws. Any ideas? Sleddog116 (talk) 17:30, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

All common law countries tend to have had the M'Naghten Rules (which is not a statute) initially, so that's a commonality. I have no idea about those jurisdictions with civilian codes, except I know a little about Scottish law on mental condition defences. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 17:38, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

I wonder if it would be better to have specific pages about the insanity defence in particular countries? It might be good to still have a page about the insanity defense in general, however. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:46, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

It might be good to do that for some countries, but I don't know if we have enough information to do that yet for a lot of countries (Sweden, for instance). My humble opinion is that, for now, we should keep everything in one article (but perhaps under different sections) rather than having a bunch of stubs (since that's all that a lot of them would amount to for the moment). That's a little more difficult to navigate. Is there any way you can think of to improve the organization while keeping all of the content on this one article? Sleddog116 (talk) 01:24, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Oh, I'm not meaning that all countries could have a section. At the moment, this is largely US law and some English law and Scots law - the rest of the world is hardly mentioned. The reason I mention this is that if done properly the insanity defence in English law would easily take more than the contents of this page. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 10:18, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Also, Doc, you said "all common law countries." Remember that not all countries are common law countries (the US, for instance; we have a written Constitution), so I think that's still too much of a generality. I don't object to having a section about the history of the insanity defense, but calling it "History of the Law" is a little too close to implying (as I said earlier) that there is a single statute or principle defining the defense, when, in fact, that is not the case. Maybe if we simply called the section "History" instead of "History of the Law." Wouldn't that be more suitable? Cheers. Sleddog116 (talk) 01:29, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

The US is a common law country! The UK has a written constitution too, just not a codified one. Yes, the history of the defence is better than the history of THE law, which is for the reasons you mention incorrect. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 10:18, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Okay, we apparently have different definitions of "common law" - "not codified" was exactly what I meant. Still, we at least seem to be in agreement on the titling. Even so, I'm sure there are probably some countries that are not "common law". Sleddog116 (talk) 15:31, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Oh yes, there are plenty of countries that have a civilian code (Scotland being a sort of civilian code jurisdiction), and they tend to have totally different ways of dealing with the criminally insane - Sweden and Norway being examples. Hence you would need to have separate sections for common law and civilian law jurisdictions. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 15:40, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Good - we're on the same page now. That's exactly the point I was trying to make. As Mr. Shaw said, the Americans and the British are two peoples "separated by a common language." I think the subsections for civilian and common jurisdictions would be quite apropos. Sweden's a bit of a special case, though; they have no legal provision for insanity defense and haven't since the 1960s. I suppose that could be included under history, but I'm not sure but what it wouldn't be a better idea to just leave the Swedish defense where it is. If you have a better idea, I'm all ears. Also, we've mentioned common code and civilian code, but are there any sources that might mention how the insanity defense would be covered by military law? I doubt that happens very often, but I'm sure at least one court-martial defendant must have entered an insanity plea at some point. As the article says, the use of the defense is quite rare - do you know of any military cases that would be noteworthy enough to merit inclusion in the article? Regards. Sleddog116 (talk) 19:22, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
OK - yes, I love that quote :) It certainly would make sense to divide them up, given all the differences. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:24, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

I think Norway's the same, from the reporting of the Breivik situation. I have no specific knowledge of martial law, I'm afraid. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:24, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi, I've moved the section about the "ultimate issue" to by the section of expert testimony on insanity, it made more sense to put it there. I've altered the bit about expert testimony because as it was, it only pertained to the M'Naghten Rules. I hope that's OK, nothing contentious there. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:19, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

We need to add something about diminished responsibility in the Uk in the second paragraph - there must be something there originally otherwise the reference to diminished responsibility not being a defence in the US doesn't make sense. I need to look up the statute first. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:19, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Already done and cited - at least the stuff pertaining to US. I think it makes more sense as I have it now (I hope it does anyway). I added a little to the second paragraph about diminished responsibility, but unfortunately, what I found was from Cornell, so really applies only to the US - it would be great if you could find something about other countries (I think it would be great if we could globalize this a bit - it seems very US/UK-centric at the moment). Sleddog116 (talk) 20:25, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
That was quick! Yes, that revision makes perfect sense. I've just added a comment about how the partial defence operates, and I'll add in the statute when I have time to look it up. Likewise I will do some research on comparative law, but that might take a bit longer. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:30, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
I raise no objection to your edits to the lead - they make more sense this way. Besides, you really just moved more than you actually changed. I'm in the process of doing some research for the article - I've been trying to fill in some of those CN tags. I think I can probably find one for the lead sentence pretty easily (in fact, the Cornell Law School sources I've been using define the insanity defense that way almost verbatim). I'll be on the lookout for comparative law sources while I'm looking for citation material. Sleddog116 (talk) 20:36, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Psychiatric Treatment[edit]

In Foucha v. Louisiana (1992) which "supreme court" made this ruling? This is important as this is an international site and there is a "supreme court" in almost every country. 07:04, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The case of Foucha v. Louisiana was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. I am a trial attorney and am familiar with that case.Sinmeta 18:14, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

also a member of the legal profession- the cite to Foucha is 504 US 71 (1992).

How many other nations have the authority to rule on cases involving Louisiana? 23:54, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

"Defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity are generally placed in a mental institution" - this is NOT the case in England and Wales. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 23:01, 12 November 2011 (UTC)


Merged External link from Plea of temporary insanity to this page. Plea of temporary insanity currently redirects to this page as it was a stub and poorly written at that. -- Long, Tall Texan 23:40, Jun 10, 2004 (UTC)

Non-US rules[edit]

We definitely need examples of non-US rules. David.Monniaux 19:36, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I absolutely concur. This article is US-centric, although it is informative and interesting. Unfortunately, I do not have much knowledge at all of non-American legal systems, or I would try to fix it myself. -- disbomber 21:07 PST PDT, 22 May 2005

This is completely US-centric. This phrase in the intro says it all "The insanity defense is available in most jurisdictions that respect human rights and have a rule of law". Implying that if the insanity defense is not available, then the jurisdiction probably doesn't respect human rights or have a rule of law. How ridiculous. -- 23:08, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

"This is completely US-centric. This phrase in the intro says it all "The insanity defense is available in most jurisdictions that respect human rights and have a rule of law". Implying that if the insanity defense is not available, then the jurisdiction probably doesn't respect human rights or have a rule of law. How ridiculous. --" - not ridiculous at all actually, and the above phrase was added by myself, a UK law researcher. Why do you think that statement is ridiculous? Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:43, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Unproven statistics[edit]

The paragraph citing statistics regarding the declining use of the insanity defense did not attempt to prove this notion. It appears to have been based on specific research, but no study was cited. A study of changes in trends regarding the use of this legal defense, as well as a poll regarding public perceptions of same, seem to be referenced. I removed the paragraph. I hope that whoever found the original statistics will put them back up and cite them correctly. I don't mean to be a stickler--it's just that the statistics sound arbitrary and less believable without an actual citation. I also made some minor grammar edits. disbomber 21:06 PST PDT, 22 May 2005

Arizona: Alcohol/drugs preclude consent[edit]

When I lived in Arizona, I heard from a reliable source in local government that a fairly recent Arizona state law says that consent given for sex ("yes, I want to do it", etc.) is legally not considered valid if the person giving consent was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. This is relevant to the article's section on temporary insanity through alcohol/drug influence, but unfortunately I can't find an official cite regarding this law. Can anyone--especially Arizona lawyers--help with this? -- disbomber 21:12 PST PDT, 22 May 2005

This has nothing to do with any insanity defence. An insanity defence to a charge of rape would be made on behalf of the offender. Instead, this relates to the capacity of the victim to give consent: that someone seriously intoxicated by drugs or alcohol may not be presumed to have freely given valid consent to sexual activity is not peculiar to Arizona. NRPanikker 16:47, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

NRPanikker is correct, a person who is intoxicated may not have the capacity to consent. This probably comes from notions in contract law in which a person lacks capacity to consent to a contract if he/she is intoxicated and the other party to the contract knew about the intoxication and took advantage of the intoxicated person, or if the person attempting to give consent was somehow involuntarily intoxicated intoxicated (e.g. they were drugged or someone spiked their food/drink). This, however, usually is only a consideration regarding victim and not the offender, although I suppose in some limited circumstances, such as where the offender is involuntarily intoxicated or where the offender claims to be the actual victim, it could apply to the offender as well. (talk) 14:19, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

There is no such thing as "insanity due to drugs or alchohol." There IS a defense called Involuntary Intoxication. This is called into play when the person commits a crime after they have been drugged or intoxicated against their will. However, this also has nothing to do with legal insanity pleas nor laws regarding sexual consent. 00:10, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

History of the insanity defense[edit]

I haven't really found time to check this definitively but surely:

However, in the United States, the pioneer in the insanity defense could be credited to New Hampshire Chief Justice, Charles Cogswell Doe. In Ford v. Wainwright (1975) the US Supreme Court ruled that insane prisoners cannot be executed.

- (my emphasis) cannot be right. Definitely not "1975". I suspect it's a typo for "1875". Cutler 09:52, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually the Supreme Court decision is Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986) and I have no idea why this case is in the history section. David91 10:37, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
The article read, and still reads, like Ford v. Wainwright was a Charles Cogswell Doe judgement. Cutler 11:38, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Under "History" it would be informative to have citation of the first case where the M'Naghten Rules were recognised in the U.S.. Cutler 09:58, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Insanity defense in murder cases[edit]

removed: 60-70% of all insanity pleas are not in murder cases.

I have no idea where this statistic came from, because other resources I saw said just the opposite, so I removed it. If someone can cite the source, that's great, but until then, I've included below what I found that says otherwise.

About a third of the way down the page on Crime Library's information on the insanity defense: "But since the insanity defense is utilized almost exclusively in murder cases (it is extremely rare in any other type of offense), the publicity it receives is far out of proportion to its use."

Katsesama 03:44, 2 July 2006 (UTC) It's certainly not the case in the UK that the insanity plea is only used for murder cases, especially since 1991 when compulsory detention at HM's pleasure was eliminatedJack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 22:57, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

This is something that needs to be stated in the article, but we need to have reliable source references first. If you're a law researcher, can you find an outside source to substantiate this? Sleddog116 (talk) 01:04, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Diminished responsibility[edit]

I've added a brief link to Diminished responsibility at the end of the opening paragraph of the main page, because this is a closely related topic. I don't know if the link could be added in a better way. (Peter Ells 23 August 2006.)

The beginning of this article is incorrect. It states "In criminal trials, the insanity defense is where the defendant claims they are not responsible for their actions due to mental health problems". This is not altogether accurate because this defense does not always claim that the defendant is "not responsible" for their actions. Rather, it would be more correct to say that "the defendant did not have the mental capacity to be held criminally accountable for his/her actions." (talk) 14:48, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

In fiction?[edit]

This section seems to add nothing valuable to the article. I would suggest deleting it. Tvaughan1 22:51, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Name of article?[edit]

Why is the name of this article "Insanity defence" when it is in the category of "Criminal defenses" and the opening sentence says "Insanity defenses"? I think it should be changed to "Insanity defense". Comrade4·2 03:55, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree, the title should be "Insanity defense". "Defence" is the less common variant overall, though more prevalent in the UK. Can someone move this? --S0uj1r0 04:39, 16 October 2006 (UTC)


I reverted to the last edit because of vandalism...

"Stay away from Texas"??? lol

Looking at the history it seems to happen alot in this artical....

StarDolph 05:46, 2 February 2007 (UTC)


In the introductory section (before the TOC), the word "wrong" links to "evil" ("...guilt is determined by examining if the defendant was capable of distinguishing right and wrong.")

Is that supposed to be a joke? Shouldn't it link to illegal or something else? Equating "wrong" with "evil" seems slanted to me, at the very least editorial.--AveryG 16:39, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Not necessarily... it seems to suggest somewhere on this page that one of the standards for the insanity defence is the inability to tell that an action is not just legally, but also morally wrong... In this case, the link to evil would be a correct one... (talk) 04:17, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Oh so subtle[edit]

From the article: Angie Cannon said it best in Sniper Insanity when she wrote, “Let's sneak in crappy advertising into wikipedia articles.” 19:09, 28 September 2007 (UTC) Even if a person can be proven insane at the time of the crime isn't it more important to protect the rest of society?? Incarceration is not just about punishment for a crime but prevention of future crimes by the individual. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:33, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Substantial Capacity --> ALI model[edit]

The substantial capacity test is the American Law Institute model. The American Law Institute (ALI) published the Model Penal Code (MPC) in 1962. With reference to insanity, the MPC says that "a person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law." The phrase "substantial capacity" comes directly from the ALI's definition of insanity in the MPC, which is why there is no need to have two sections, so I'm going to delete it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Apfg (talkcontribs) 05:42, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Brawner Deletion[edit]

I think the Brawner test should be deleted. All of the other tests listed are ones used in at least one other jurisdiction—Brawner is no longer good law, and even when it was good law in its jurisdiction, was not of any particular conceptual signifiance. Although the Durham test is only used in New Hampshire, its significance is derived from the fact that it was the first (and only) major attempt to create an objective insanity standard.

Also, the incorrect description of Brawner suggests that the person who wrote the section doesn't really understand the legal system. Brawner could not have "set aside" Durham, since the case was not within the DC Circuit's jurisdiction. Further, Durham would not have "set aside" Durham—it would have overruled it.

The only tests that should be included are: M'Naghten, Irresistible Impulse, Durham, MPC, and the federal standard. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Apfg (talkcontribs) 06:51, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Substantial Changes[edit]

I am in the process of reorganizing information on the insanity defense in the US. There are important 8th and 14th amendment issues with respect to the insanity defense that have not adequately been covered that I will add as I have time.Apfg (talk) 08:05, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Rule of law and insanity[edit]

Sleddog, not sure what's not "neutral" about the statement that all jurisdictions with respect for human rights and the rule of law have some form of the insanity defence, whatever name it is given. It's certainly true that post-Hinckley despite comprehensive reform of the law on insanity no state has been able to completely abolish provisions for the criminally insane. It hardly seems a contentious statement to me. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Doc insanity (talkcontribs) 17:08, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

It's an over-generalization. "No respect for human rights/rule of law" is not only loaded, it's unencyclopedic. The way the statement is presented sounds too much like personal commentary. Whether states have the ability to abolish it or not is irrelevant; I'd have no problem including a statement like "Since Hinckley, no state has been able to abolish provisions for the criminally insane" (provided, of course, that the statement is referenced with reliable sources), but it really doesn't make sense in the lead section, and certainly not as it was written. Inability to abolish a law and respect for human rights are not related. Sleddog116 (talk) 00:57, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

No, it's not an overgeneralisation at all. "Unencyclopaedic"? What does that even mean? This is nonsense of the highest order. I give up. Carry on wrecking the article, Sleddog. You've consistently put your interpretation of what "encyclopaedia" means before actually getting the facts right. I think you've got delusions of grandeur, since you believe you have the right to make reversions without going to discussion based on your incorrect interpretation of Wiki rules. As I say, it is an uncontroversial statement, and not just a personal opinion. Maybe you should recuse yourself, as I firmly believe that you are not neutral in this matter. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 09:38, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

I have no such delusions. Your statement has been reverted by numerous authors (other than myself) who have raised the same complaints. The general consensus, therefore, is in favor of not including the statement. Since you are the one against consensus, the burden of proof is on you to establish the verifiability of your statement (not the truth or fact of your statement; WP is about verifiability, not truth). If it is not just a personal opinion, you have to be able to verify it - as we've discussed before. WP is not a publisher of original thought (WP:NOT), and it is not a soapbox. You have yet to support your view with anything but circular reasoning (and not one credible source) - you see your argument being slowly dismantled by logical, sound reasoning (and polite suggestions of sensible alternatives), so you resort to personal attacks saying I have "delusions of grandeur" and such. All you have to say has essentially been, "It's not personal opinion because I say it's not." "Getting the facts right," as you put it, is about verifying them through outside, unbiased sources. Sleddog116 (talk) 15:38, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

My argument certainly hasn't been "dismantled by logical, sound reasoning". We've been here before, when you've overstepped the mark and reverted my changes without even reading the source on occasion. Who are these numerous authors, Sleddog? Not true at all. Do you really think it's unreasonable to hold you to the same standards as you hold other people? Absolutely ridiculous. You know nothing about the law yet feel able to edit a page about the law? Your editing is not constructive in the slightest. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 18:51, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Once again, I can't "read a source" that you don't provide. Once again, you assume that I know nothing about law and make personal attacks. What you know DOES NOT MATTER here. It is what can be verified through outside, cited sources. I'm not the first author to have removed that particular comment. (Check the edit histories.) You said my editing is "not constructive" but you haven't given any reasons why except that my editing disagrees with your "expert" opinions. I'm taking this to dispute resolution. Sleddog116 (talk) 19:12, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Sleddog, I come to the conclusion that you know nothing about law because the statement I made is so uncontroversial. You claim the statement isn't "neutral", which is rubbish. If you believe it needs more support, that's another matter - but if you're not sure on what basis you've removed the statement, I have to ask you WHY you've removed it. You claimed that NUMEROUS authors had reverted that statement - could you tell me how many in total? Numerous to me implies at least 5 - I see no evidence of that. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 19:28, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Summary of Dispute Resolution[edit]

  • Statements cannot be evaluated for neutrality unless citations and sources are provided.
  • Any contentious material must be cited, regardless of whether the introducing editor thinks it should be contentious or not.
  • Even information that is cited can be challenged for neutrality, where it will then enter discussion.
  • Contentious revisions should be tagged, challenged, and discussed rather than summarily removed or reverted.
  • The statement in question ([[1]]) needs to be cited, after which its neutrality can be appropriately discussed.

Added here for easy reference. Sleddog116 (talk) 21:08, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Mass removal from article by Doc insanity[edit]

Since it's been removed and restored twice now, I would like to restore the consensus version [2] that existed prior to an unexplained (and no edit summary), bold removal. The removal was reverted under valid "Vandalistic" conditions and within the WP:BRD process. Doc insanity then proceeded to undo the revert without any explanation. I gave them an opportunity to self revert their actions. I took the action of restoring the previous consensus as no discussion about this has commenced. During the overnight Doc insanity reverted the restoration again. I have attempted to resolve this on their talk page and have warned them that they are violating the BRD process. Hasteur (talk) 14:15, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

I agree - the consensus version should be restored. Any contentious material in the consensus version should be tagged for discussion. Sleddog116 (talk) 14:55, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
I've gone through and attempted to restore a neutral, non-editorializing, non "Some people think" version of the content that was removed. Take a look at it as I left out some portions that were opinions or generalizations. Hasteur (talk) 14:57, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Whose consensus? I see you haven't corrected the numerous inaccuracies in the current article - any particular reason for that? I see that any contentious material provided by myself is removed, and anything else is discussed. Any particular reason for that either? Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 15:56, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

If you feel that it would be better to restore the material and tag it (along with anything else you find contentious), you were right to do so. Also, I added the refimprove template to the article to call attention to the lack of citations; perhaps someone else who reads the article will be able to provide adequate citations. Regards. Sleddog116 (talk) 17:31, 17 December 2011 (UTC)


The correct spelling of the name is McNaughtan according to Walker in Aggravation, Mitigation and Mercy in English Criminal Justice (1998). It's also disputed that McNaughtan had delusions - he was probably a Scottish revolutionary. There are interesting parallels between the reaction to McNaughtan's and Hinckley's trials. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 21:43, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

"Interesting parallels," you say. Can you elaborate a little? Sleddog116 (talk) 02:32, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

The same kind of furore and determination to reform the insanity defence followed the two trials. As mentioned, McNaughtan wasn't insane but a revolutionary (and this illustrates one of the pitfalls of the "policeman at the elbow" test) but even if he was, he wouldn't have been insane by the M'Naghten Rules. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 09:47, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

You said it's disputed that McNaughtan had delusions. Disputed by whom? I'm American, so I know many more details of the Hinckley case than the McNaughtan case. I've never heard of such a dispute (not saying it didn't happen; just that I've never heard of it). Sleddog116 (talk) 13:58, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Richard Moran has done the more modern research on the topic published in his monograph "Knowing Right from Wrong", and found that his motivations and suspicions were entirely in keeping with the Chartists, who were in fact the subject of Tory spies. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 14:27, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Are you suggesting that this be included in the article somewhere? That's probably a good idea, as long as it can be sourced. I think we need a few more details than what we have here in this conversation, but maybe you should add what you can reference, and others who may be knowledgeable of the case can fill in whatever details you miss (and I'll go into various resources and do some research myself in the meantime). If the spelling is wrong as is, then by all means, please correct it. Sleddog116 (talk) 17:57, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

I'll add some material once I've got the material from the library on it. It's stuff I'm working on at the moment for a chapter, so when I get time I'll add it. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 20:27, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Dorothy Talbye[edit]

The assertion that Massachusett's common law made no distinctions between the insane and the criminally responsible is extremely dubious, given that it would have been based on English common law which had recognized insanity as a defence for several hundred years by this stage. I suggest this statement should be removed. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 14:31, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

As someone who has spent a great deal of time in Massachusetts, I can actually say that the claim isn't particularly dubious to me at all. Mass's common law would not have been based overmuch on English common law per se - Colonial Massachusetts was actually settled by the Puritans, who had very different laws from the English. (I have a relative who was born in Salem - ever hear of the witch hunts? Yeah.) I have no qualms about the statement itself, but I do find the source somewhat suspect. If you can find a better source, that would be great. (I'll be on the lookout for one, too.) If you can't find one, I raise no objections to removing the statement. Sleddog116 (talk) 04:12, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
When I looked at the sources I could find (which seemed to have a common source given their commonalities of language), they made incorrect assertions about the English common law, hence my concern. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 08:36, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
Did those "incorrect assertions" refer to the 17th century English law? I'm sure English law has changed quite a bit in 300+ years. Sleddog116 (talk) 15:32, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I am referring to the law as it was then - the insanity defence has been recognized in one form or another in English law for over a millennium. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 16:39, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
Again, though, the Puritans wouldn't have followed the letter of English law. (Escape from legal persecution was one reason they would have left England in the first place.) I'll have to get to the library when I get a chance and see if I can find some better sources. I'm not entirely certain that the Puritans would have had a provision for an insanity defense - particularly in Massachusetts. It might have been different in Britain under Cromwell, but New England (I'm originally from New Hampshire, so I consider myself a New Englander) was essentially a theocratic state under the Puritans. Conservative New Englanders often still have trouble breaking from Puritan tradition today. Irrelevant perhaps, and I still haven't found reliable sources to substantiate it, but I think removing it at this point may be a little hasty. It does have a source, after all (not the best source, granted, but it is at least verifiable). I'll have to go through some of my criminal justice textbooks and see if they mention Puritan law in that matter (the textbooks we used were published by Addison-Wesley, I think, and they're a major textbook producer located in Boston). Sleddog116 (talk) 00:42, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
It can be said that the Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641) makes no such distinction with regard to the capital laws, including the death penalties for bestiality and blasphemy. In fact, its only mention of the mind regards a restriction against forcing someone with a "defect of minde" to fill a public office for which they are unsuited. Still, the Provincial Charter (1691) placed the colony under English Common Law, so the insanity defense would have existed from that point forward. (The above mention of the witch trials is sadly irrelevant -- witchcraft was a felony under English Common Law at this time. In fact, there were witch trials in England during the same years as the United States' events at Salem.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:33, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Diminished responsibility[edit]

Something about the explanation of diminished responsibility is bugging me. I think it definitely merits inclusion in the article - diminished capacity plays a very important role in the explanation of insanity defense, after all - but I question the correctness of giving it so much attention in the lead section. We do, after all, already have an article on diminished responsibility. I think all that needs to be included in the lead is the part that says "...not eligible for the insanity defense like intoxication (or, more frequently, diminished capacity), may...". The rest (i.e. the last paragraph of the lead section) should be moved to elsewhere in the article - discussion is still open as to where. There ought to be a subsection (not a full section) under something (perhaps "defining insanity"), and it could be called something like "Insanity versus diminished capacity" or some such. I'm open to suggestions here. Sleddog116 (talk) 04:22, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

or we could have a section about lesser forms of mental impairment - combine the section about mitigating factors and the plea of diminished responsibility? Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 08:39, 22 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done. I didn't really do much more than move the text - it fit into the section pretty well already. If you think you can get it to mesh better, be my guest. Sleddog116 (talk) 15:31, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

Expert evidence about insanity[edit]

I would imagine that in the US psychiatrists rather than psychologists are the expert witnesses for the insanity defence. Certainly in the UK there is a statutory requirement for a forensic psychiatrist with appropriate expertise to give evidence. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 11:04, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

The expert witness system for the US is somewhat more complicated. Look at this quote - maybe it relates somehow?

Because psychiatric testimony played a large role in Hinckley's trial and ultimate verdict, the reliability of using such testimony came under attack in the wake of the trial. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued a statement after the trial acknowledging public skepticism of "the nature and the quality of psychiatric testimony in insanity trials." The APA also stated that it would not oppose laws restricting the use of such testimony in insanity cases. In 1984, Congress enacted a statute stating that:

"No expert witness testifying with respect to the mental state or condition of a defendant in a criminal case may state an opinion or inference as to whether the defendant did or did not have the mental state or condition constituting an element of the crime charged or a defense thereto. Such ultimate issues are for the trier of fact alone."

The above quote was taken from this source: [[3]] I don't know if that applies to this somewhow, but perhaps it does. Your thoughts? Sleddog116 (talk) 16:54, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Because psychiatric testimony played a large role in Hinckley's trial and ultimate verdict - as I suspected, it's psychiatric testimony. I would have thought that as a matter of common law expert witnesses shouldn't be commenting on the defendant's mental state. Expert witnesses are there to help the jury, not replace it. Reform of the insanity defence in the USA preceded Hinckley in any case. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 18:34, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Temporary insanity[edit]

This section is misleading. Most defendants at trial are sane, otherwise they will be found unfit to plead or the equivalent rather than going to trial. Jack Hawkins legal academic & Times reader (talk) 11:04, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. This section is seriously incorrect. In the U.S. at least, in order to proceed in court, a defendant must be able to understand the legal proceedings and participate in a meaningful way. Any mentally ill defendant, including one who is invoking any insanity defense, must be made "competent to stand trial" before the court can continue proceedings. Therefore, any defendant on trial will be mentally competent. "Temporary insanity" is a defense by the accused that he/she was BRIEFLY insane at the time the crime was committed and therefore was incapable of knowing the nature of his/her alleged criminal act. The article should be changed from "The notion of temporary insanity argues that a defendant was insane, but is now sane" to "The notion of temporary insanity argues that a defendant was briefly insane at the time the crime was committed and therefore was incapable of knowing the nature of his/her alleged criminal act." A wonderful example is the famous "Twinkie defense" used as a defense by the accused killer in defense of the murder of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and his aide Harvey Milk. The killer, Dan White, claimed that a temporary depression that correlated with eating junk food put him into an altered state that changed his behavior to such a degree that he could not understand the nature of his actions. (talk) 14:44, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Disastrous consequences[edit]

The context of punishing actions when the people who performed them are considered capable of having done it deliberately forces people to pretend to be incapable of making sensible decisions. Forcing them to keep doing stupid things to keep the appearance up. Instead of assuming that psychiatry can distinguish "real" insanity from "fake", which is untestable since there is only psychiatry to compare psychiatry to, or to frame antipsychiatry as if it demonized people, a third way is to be considered. To simply view the question of whether an action was conscious or not as totally unrelated to the question of whether or not it could be considered cruel, which is logical from both the point that is does not imply should, and that the action has the same consequences anyway. (talk) 17:42, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Renaming of article[edit]

This article has been renamed to Mental Disorder (Insanity) Defense to enable combination of the similar articles Insanity defense and Mental Disorder Defense. Kidsankyran (undated comment added 01:20, 9 December 2015)

Strongly Oppose merger of the two articles. The defence of not criminally responsible in Canada was created by Parliament precisely because the Supreme Court ruled that the old common law rules relating to insanity were contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "Not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder" in Canada is not just a different name from the old common law insanity defence, and the two articels should not be merged. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 05:11, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
And, I find the re-naming of this article to facilitate the merger very presumptuous, when you have just today proposed the merger. Having set it up for discussion, you have to let people comment on the proposal before you start to implement it.Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 05:15, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
I have removed the text that was cut and pasted from the other article. First, that's not how a merger is supposed to occur; full credit is supposed to be given to the source article. Second, having just today proposed the merger, inviting discussion, it is not appropriate for you to go ahead and do it without letting people talk about it. You invited the discussion; you have to let the discussion occur. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 05:26, 9 December 2015 (UTC)
Clearly, the two defenses are related and anyone searching for the term "insanity defense" would appreciate a worldwide view on the topic in one article. The only difference relates to common or statutory law, which can be explained in the introduction of the merged article. It makes little sense to have this article as a separate topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kidsankyran (talkcontribs) 02:27, 16 December 2015 (UTC)

Move back to Insanity defense?[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Move. We have clear consensus to revert to the stable title. Cúchullain t/c 19:59, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Mental Disorder (Insanity) DefenseInsanity defense – I became aware of this article title change via this edit by Kidsankyran at the Murder article. On December 9, 2015, Kidsankyran moved the Insanity defense article without WP:Consensus; if viewing this from the WP:Requested moves page, see the discussion a little above on this talk page. I argue that per WP:Common name, and per the inappropriate capitalization (see WP:Article titles), this article be moved back to Insanity defense. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:42, 6 January 2016 (UTC)

Support. Don't know why this naming has been allowed to persist. smileguy91talk - contribs 00:30, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Suppport per nom. SnowFire (talk) 06:54, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. It makes sense. BlueBirdo (talk) 14:57, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.