The Michigan Daily-Thursday, June 3, 1982-Page 11
HINCKLEY'S DEFENSE IS A LONGSHOT
Insanity remains a difficult plea
WASHINGTON (AP) - If a federal jury agrees Hinckley attempted to assassinate Reagan on Mar- HINCKLEY'S JURY may also return a guilty ver-
that John Hinckley was insane when he tried to kill ch 30, 1981. He admits it; his lawyers argue that the dict to ensure his imprisonment. If found innocent by
President Reagan, he and his attorneys will have 27-year-old defendant was an unwitting denizen of a reason of insanity, Hinckley probably would be sent
triumphed with a longshot defense which seldom is fantasy world when he pulled the trigger. to a mental hospital for observation. The length of his
even raised. IF THE JURY agrees that Hinckley was not legally stay there would be uncertain.
One California study tracked 50,000 cases through responsible at that moment, it can find him innocent In a revesal of the government and defense roles,
the criminal justice system and found that - despite by reason of insanity. prosecutors then would have to prove that Hinckley
its notoriety - the insanity defense was aired in only But even if the jury agrees that there is evidence of remains mentally ill and dangerous to force con-
100. insanity, it is far from certain that Hinckley will be tinued confinement.
"THE FIGURE heard most commonly is that in judged innocent. Psychiatric determinations can be wrong, with
less than 2 percent of serious felony cases is the in- "There are instances where people are sufficiently tragic consequences, but Zenoff says the public fear
sanity defense ever raised," says Dick Lynch, staff incensed about what was done that might be that an insanity verdict frequently leads to the
director of the American Bar Association's commit- overriding in their minds," said Elyce Zenoff, a premature release of dangerous criminals is un-
tee on criminal justice standards. professor law and psychiatry at the George warranted.
"It's a generally accepted precept among Washington University law school. She cited one "There is a great public perception that people
prosecutors and defense counsel alike that the in- prominent case, involving "Son of Sam" David found not guilty by reason of insanity walk out the
sanity defense is seldom used and very rarely suc- Berkowitz, in which the defense made no effort at courthouse door . .. but that's not true," she said.
cessful," Lynch added. trial to prove insanity.
DaIy Photo by JACKIE IELL
At the Farmer's Market in Ann Arbor, Terry Williams of Belleville, Mich. trys to convince potential customers to in-
vest in some tomate plants.
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