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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Clark v. Arizona: Insanity Defense Law Not Too Strict

From AP: The Supreme Court ruled by a 6-3 vote Thursday in Clark v. Arizona that Arizona's law on the insanity defense is not too restrictive in limiting evidence defendants can present at trial.

Under Arizona's law, defendants "may be found guilty except insane" if they prove they were so mentally ill that they did not know what they did was wrong. Many other states also allow insanity findings for defendants who can show they did not understand the nature of their criminal acts.

"Arizona's rule serves to preserve the state's chosen standard for recognizing insanity as a defense and to avoid confusion and misunderstanding on the part of jurors," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. Souter said the state can limit psychiatric testimony to avoid such confusion, given the often dueling opinions of experts and inability of anyone to truly know what is in someone else's mind. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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