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State of Mind, Case Study Example

Pages: 2

Words: 510

Case Study

 

  1. If Dr. Roitman was correct in his assessment of Miller’s mental state of mind, then this would clearly have met the legal M’Naughten test. These two components:
  2. He could not appreciate the nature of his acts
  3. He could not recognize the difference between right and wrong

There are clear representations of the M’Naughten test which provides legal defense of insanity in the court of law. The M’Naughten test originated from the case of Daniel M’Naughten in the British courts. The House of Lords determined that these two criteria were met and justified the defense of insanity when M’Naughten attempted to kill the prime minister.

According to Dr. Norton Roitman, a psychiatrist, when Miller killed Goring, he “could not appreciate the nature of his acts and could not recognize the difference between right and wrong.” If Roitman was correct, what legal test for insanity would Miller have met?

  1. This testimony contains a piece of the M’Naughten test, but it primarily gets into the heart of the matter which shows that the act of murder itself is a product of the insanity. Because the nature of the act was so violent, this satisfies the Durham/New Hampshire test or the Product test. This test of insanity essentially shows that the actions taken by Miller show that he could not have possibly recognized the difference between right and wrong at the time the act was committed. Therefore, the actions that occurred were a product of Miller’s mental state of insanity.

Dr. Jack Jurasky, a psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution, concluded that Miller’s outburst was of such a violent nature that he could not have appreciated the nature of his actions when he stabbed Goring. If Jurasky was correct, what legal test for insanity would Miller have met?

  1. The trial court refused to give the defendant’s instructions to the jury primarily because it refuted Nevada state law which states that temporary insanity is not a legal defense. The defense attempted to use the argument that legal insanity at the time of the commission of the crime existed; however, this was clearly refuted by their further efforts to show that Miller was under temporary insanity per the M’Naughten insanity test. For this reason, the jury could not and should not have been instructed to view the state of affairs differently. Temporary insanity was clearly shown by the defense. Nevada state law does not permit temporary insanity to be a legal defense used within the courts; therefore, the jury had no obligation to review the actions as the product of an insane mind.

Miller claimed to be sane before and after the killing but insane during the time the crime was committed. His attorneys asked that, at the close of trial, the jury be instructed on the issue of temporary insanity and that they be told that “regardless of its duration, legal insanity that existed at the time of the commission of the crime is a defense to the crime.” Why do you think that the trial court refused to give to the jury the instructions regarding the insanity defense suggested by the defendant?

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