In June 1982, John Hinckley, Jr. – President Reagan’s would-be assassin – was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The announcement sparked widespread public criticism, as many believed that the verdict, for all practical purposes, exonerated the man who tried to kill the president. Nearly thirty years later, it seems likely that Jared Loughner, the man charged with attempted assassination and murder after last weekend’s deadly shooting spree in Tucson, will also plead insanity in his case.
David Bruck, Clinical Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, and career capital defense attorney helps contextualize the use of the insanity defense. He looks at the evolution of both the idea of insanity and the legal action based on state of mind.