Monday, January 10, 2011

The Duty of A Defense Investigator assigned to Jared Loughner’s Case

Tucson, AZ—The job of defending 22-year-old Jared Loughner will most certainly center around the issue of his competency or lack thereof. Is he competent to stand trial and assist in his defense? There are many serious red flags that say he may not be standing trial anytime soon.

There seems to be little doubt that Loughner is the shooter and planned his activities. The defense has no viable direction to go other than seeking refuge under the insanity defense. That defense is more complicated and difficult than ever because lawmakers have done everything possible to foreclose this possibility.

Tucson Lawyer Bob Hirsh did a masterful job of gaining freedom for a man who murdered his wife nearly 30 years ago. In 1982 Restaurateur Steven Steinberg murdered his wife in their Scottsdale home. The defense was that Steinberg’s Jewish wife was a shrew and incessantly nagged him, driving him insane until he stabbed her to death. Steinberg was acquitted and that sent angry shock-waves across the nation. Laws were changed to preclude another such acquittal.

The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley was another case that led to tightening of the insanity defense under federal law. The public seems to reject any excuse for heinous criminal acts.

None the less, the defense exists and the job of a defense investigator would be to find every scintilla of evidence of abhorrent conduct. Head injuries, medical examinations, witnesses, relatives, friends, enemies, teachers, cops and anyone at all that knows anything must be examined or intensively interviewed.

The investigator needs to make sure that the mental health experts have the whole picture of Jared Lougner. The competency hearing for this kind of case will take longer than most trials. If Loughner is tried then the issue of competency will be hashed out for a second time.

This case seems destined for a plea agreement but only after two or three years of legal wrangling. If no plea agreement can be reached this case will undoubtedly be the subject of a Supreme Court review.

Trial watchers will be learning about the famous McNaughton Rule that is the legal standard for insanity in the United States.

You can fully expect the defense to show every failure of government to take steps to deal with this guy’s mental illness. Before this is over you can expect major embarrassment by numerous agencies that dropped the ball. There will be no questions left behind on his instability. This tortured soul has a legitimate insanity defense that will undoubtedly preclude a death sentence. Loughner may even be confined to a mental institution rather than a prison.


Glenn B said...

"This tortured soul has a legitimate insanity defense that will undoubtedly preclude a death sentence." So the jury is already in on this one!

Are you actually telling us that his defense by reason of insanity is legitimate before you have heard or seen the evidence? If so, how wonderfully magnanimous of you but yet how utterly nothing more than an assumption.

He may not be insane but maybe as sly as a fox. Is it at all possible that this man is a calculating cold blooded killer who prepared well ahead of time for his defense by reason of insanity? Note I asked is it at all possible and not if it was likely. I tend to think him a crazy man, about as crazy as they come, but I certainly would withhold my judgement of him related to a criminal case until I would have heard and seen all the evidence. Just as he gets his day in court, so too does the prosecutor.

All the best,

Crimefile said...

Glen all I can make now is an educated guess. This guy was living a strange life and has made even stranger writings over the years. He’s no stranger to police for his bizarre conduct. The act he committed was nothing less that crazy. It won’t be up to me but the courts after they hear from the experts. This guy seems to be a legitimate whack job.

Ed Skinner said...

Concerning the so-called insanity defense, Arizona law allows he be found "guilty except insane" which will put him in a psychiatric facility, and if he later becomes sane, then he would be moved to a normal prison. Such a finding would obviate -- make impossible -- a death penalty.

But note that "Arizona's legally insane standard requires that the accused, at the time of the crime, not know the criminal act was wrong". This will likely be *the* key issue.

See for some, but not the only, discussion of the US Supreme Court's decision on the Arizona law.

(As always, I am not a lawyer.)

Anonymous said...

dude thinks he's a significant catalyst for 'change'.

it's the 'look at me, i'm important because i killed you' mentality.

the 'i am great because i ended your life' mindset which is an earmark of those whose fear of inevitable death is really a fear of inevitable non existence.

they think, therefore they are, and then think, when i die, i shall no longer think, therefore i shall no longer be.

they don't understand that that is just their body talking.