Unpublished Opinion in Insanity Defense Case:
Thanks to reader Keith Hilzendeger, we now have a copy of the unpublished Arizona Court of Appeals opinion that the Supreme Court agreed to review today to determine the constitutional status of the insanity defense. (Keith works near the courthouse, and took some time during his lunch hour to get the opinion and send it on.) I have posted the 21-page opinion in State v. Clark here (.pdf). The relevant part of the opinion is found on pages 15-18.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Unpublished Opinion in Insanity Defense Case:
  2. The Constitution and the Insanity Defense:
Does anyone know if the cert. petition and brief in opposition are available online?
12.5.2005 7:54pm
Not yet, so far as I can find. In about a week or so, you'll be able to get at the question presented at this link.

They'll also be available on Westlaw, of course, but that doesn't help non-lawyers (and some lawyers even, for that matter).

Also -- I wanted to respond to a comment on the other thread. There was a comment that this case might not have been cert-worthy because it came from an intermediate state court of appeals. The Supreme Court doesn't share that view; for but two examples, Lawrence came from the Texas intermediate appellate court, and last Term's case regarding the right to counsel on direct appeals came out of the Michigan intermediate appellate court.
12.5.2005 8:44pm
The trial court was obviously conflicted by the ruling in Mott that "Arizona does not allow a defendant's mental disorder short of insanity either as an insanity defense or to negate the mens rea elements of a crime." Instead of disallowing the defendant from attempting to negate mens rea through reference to his schizophrenia, the court allowed him to proceed contrary to Arizona law. I suspect the trial judge who was deciding the case was hedging his bets on Mott. And it was probably a good thing that he did that, because it does seem contrary to Patterson to remove from a defendant's arsenal certain arguments that would negate what is in this case an element of specific intent (intending to kill someone one knows is a policeman).

The Supreme Court of Arizona seems no more sanguine on Mott. In its decision, the Court refuses to consider whether Mott should be overruled, which I speculatively interpret as a punt on bad law. Another reason the court may have decided not to decide the issue is that it would not likely have affected the outcome. Although Arizona law does not permit a defendant from arguing that his mental condition negated the required specific intent, the judge did permit this (whether he factored the evidence into his decision is another matter that may raise a legitimate issue). And because this was a bench trial, there were no pesky jury instructions that are often fodder for appeals on intent. In other words, the appellant is probably right that Arizona law violates due process, but, because the portion of Arizona law that violates due process was not followed and because the defendant appears to have been given the right at trial that he seeks on appeal, he cannot likely win.
12.5.2005 9:36pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Keith, you rock! Thanks! Right on about the intermediate-court aspect, too---there are too many such cases nowadays for the SCOTUS to snub them on principle.
12.6.2005 9:01am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Thanks for posting that file. It was greatly appeciated by my Professor, who was lead counsel on the Atkins case.
12.6.2005 3:20pm