In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2005 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

The crazy world of insanity law

By Jonathan Turley

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was a crime that still haunts the nation. On the morning of June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates, a suburban Houston housewife, made breakfast for her five children and then methodically drowned each one — Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul 3; Luke, 2; and Mary, 6 months — in the family's guest bathroom. She then spread four of the bodies out on her bed, leaving Noah floating in the tub. After that, she called the police and her husband to disclose the crime amid a rambling account of being possessed by Satan.

Yates should have been an easy case for the insanity defense. She had a long, documented history of schizophrenia and postpartum depression. She had attempted suicide twice, and only weeks before she had been held in a mental hospital. Shortly before the murders, her doctor had taken her off her medication. She soon began to experience delusional communications from G-d telling her to kill the children to protect them. Her treating doctor at the time described her as "one of the sickest patients I've ever seen."

The senseless horror of the killings strongly supported a claim of insanity. Even in our collective anger following the murders, many people knew instinctively that this mother was seriously ill. But Texas has an insanity standard shaped more by political than clinical realities. Under that standard, even Yates was found to be sane, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Now, however, she's getting another chance. On Wednesday, the state's highest court threw out her conviction and sent the case back for a new trial because of overzealous prosecutors and false testimony by the prosecution's key expert witness, Newport Beach psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz. This time, it is to be hoped that the trial will focus the nation's attention on the insanity defense and how states such as Texas routinely ignore clear mental illness in their eagerness to extract popular justice.

In recent years, states have made it more and more difficult to claim insanity. After John Hinckley Jr. was found insane in the shooting of President Reagan, many states adopted new, stricter standards. For example, Texas used to accept that a person was insane even if he knew that he was committing a crime, as long as he could convince a jury that he could not stop himself because of mental illness. Yates would have easily satisfied that standard.

However, Texas changed the rule in 1983 to require a showing that a defendant could not distinguish right from wrong. Thus, even if Yates was obeying Satan, she was still sane if she knew it was wrong on some level.

Of course, the government can always find someone such as Dietz, who makes a substantial living finding lunatics sane. The Texas standard also ignores the psychiatric literature questioning the significance of the right/wrong standard.

In most states, the insanity rule is now a legal version of a Rorschach test: Juries come away with radically different impressions of sanity and insanity. Fewer than 1% of criminal cases raise this defense, but the inconsistency among the cases is shocking.

For instance, in Colorado this year, Rebekah Amaya was found insane in the drowning of her two children because she said she was told to do so by a spider crawling over her hand. Like Yates, the standard was the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Both women had prior mental illness aggravated by postpartum depression. Both claimed that the killings were meant to rid their children and themselves of evil spirits. Yates, however, was found sane, while Amaya was found insane.

Perhaps Yates should have said her orders came from a spider. Or maybe she should have said she did it to impress actress Jodie Foster, as did Hinckley. Frankly, there are plenty of sane motivations for assassinating a president, but there are few for a mother to kill her children. Yet Hinckley was found insane while Yates was found perfectly sane.

Even within Texas, similar cases result in radically different results. For example, Deanna Laney was recently found insane for stoning her children on orders from G-d.

It seems that some homicidal messages from G-d are more believable than others.

Our insanity laws are now as incomprehensible as their subjects. Unhinged individuals such as Colin Ferguson (the Long Island Railroad killer) and Zacarias Moussaoui (the 9/11 co-conspirator) have not only been found competent but allowed to represent themselves. We sat and watched as these barking lunatics pretended to be lawyers while the judges and prosecutors desperately pretended that they were sane.

The new trial is unlikely to shed new light on the dark delusions of Andrea Yates. It was never a question of whether Yates was insane. It was only a question of whether Texas was willing to recognize that fact in its own mad fit of retributive justice.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. Click here to visit his website. Comment by clicking here.


© 2005, Jonathan Turley