Individual and Group Decision Making: Current Issues

By N. John Castellan Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
10
JURY DECISION MAKING AND THE INSANITY DEFENSE

James R. P. Ogloff

Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

In its effort to regulate society, the law makes countless assumptions about human behavior. Some of the assumptions deal with people's understanding of legal information. Nowhere is this assumption more evident than in the area of jury decision making. One of the more controversial areas of jury decision making involves the insanity defense. This chapter summarizes some of the research that investigates the extent to which jurors comprehend insanity defense instructions, and the factors that jurors use when making decisions about the insanity defense. The chapter also describes two studies that were conducted to determine whether the specific insanity standard (including the assignment of burden of proof and standard of proof employed had a significant effect on mock jurors' verdicts. Participants' comprehension of insanity defense instructions was measured, and the factors jurors used to decide whether to find the defendant Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) were also assessed. Participants' comprehension of insanity defense standards was very low. When asked to identify the factors they considered important in determining whether to find a defendant NGRI, only three elements of insanity defense standards were identified as being significant. The results have important implications for policy decisions regarding the insanity defense.

Following the 1982 acquittal of John W. Hinckley, Jr., 17 states and the federal government revised their insanity defense statutes by using a substitute standard, by assigning the burden of proof to the defendant, or by altering the standard of proof necessary to meet the burden. Several states have also in-

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