Before and After Hinckley: Legal Insanity in the United States

U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 21-08

In The Insanity Defence: International and Comparative Perspectives (Ronnie Mackay & Warren Brookbanks eds., Oxford, 2022 Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2021

See all articles by Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: February 10, 2021

Abstract

This chapter first considers the direction of the affirmative defense of legal insanity in the United States before John Hinckley was acquitted by reason of insanity in 1982 for attempting to assassinate President Reagan and others and the immediate aftermath of that acquittal. Since the middle of the 20th Century, the tale is one of the rise and fall of the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code test for legal insanity. Then it turns to the constitutional decisions of the United States Supreme Court concerning the status of legal insanity. Finally, it addresses the substantive and procedural changes that have occurred in the insanity defense since the wave of legal changes following the Hinckley decision.

Keywords: Criminal law & procedure, psychology, legal history, mens rea, insanity defense, mental disorder, Model Penal Code, MPC, M’Naghten test, production & persuasion burden, cognitive & control tests, Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, civil commitment

Suggested Citation

Morse, Stephen J., Before and After Hinckley: Legal Insanity in the United States (February 10, 2021). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 21-08, In The Insanity Defence: International and Comparative Perspectives (Ronnie Mackay & Warren Brookbanks eds., Oxford, 2022 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3784179

Stephen J. Morse (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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