The Constitution and the Insanity Defense:
Via SCOTUSblog, I learn that the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in a very interesting criminal law case, Clark v. Arizona, Case No. 05-5966, which considers the constitutionality of a 1993 Arizona state law that limits the scope of the insanity defense. Lyle Denniston summarizes:
The first issue in the case . . . is whether the Constitution requires states to allow an individual to claim that, because of mental defect, he could not know the nature and quality of the crime he is accused of committing. Arizona eliminated that aspect of the insanity defense, permitting individuals only to claim that a mental defect kept them from knowing right from wrong.The opinion below was decided by the Arizona Court of Appeals, at least according to the Court's docket sheet, but I don't think it was published.
The appeal involves an Arizona youth who, at age 17, shot and killed a police officer who had stopped him for loudly playing the radio on his car. Eric Michael Clark contends he was mentally ill at the time of the incident. "This Court," his appeal argues, "has never addressed this issue, and never held that a state may, consistent with due process, abolish the insanity defense as it existed at common law."