Not legally crazy

Accused mass murderer James Holmes remains in the news; especially because he looked so wild eyed and out of it in his court appearance.There’s a bit of hysteria on the internets that he might get off with an insanity defense. Not bloody likely: there’s big difference between crazy and legally crazy. Holmes may well be insane BUT this carefully planned murder scheme as well as the booby trapped apartment means that he is NOT legally crazy.

I hope that some of the folks who are freaking out about this will take a deep breath and relax. Holmes is more likely to be sent to death row than to the looney bin: he knew what he was doing however insane it seems to us semi-normal people.

8 thoughts on “Not legally crazy

  1. I remain adamantly against the death penalty, even in the case of James Holmes.
    Well, I make one exception: corporations. If they’re people, they should get the fucking death penalty when they’re convicted of wrongdoing.

  2. @SB: Not a fan of Cap Pun myself. But this is one of those rare cases that it fits. I’m an abolitionist but if the law is on the books, this is the right sort of case.

  3. At first, I thought it was part of an act, but, there were reports over the weekend that jail prisoners were talking about killing him, and given the state of his apartment and the likelihood that the cops were anticipating that going to trial with this case would be a circus, there’s little doubt that they were keeping at him all weekend to confess. He may have looked spacey as hell, but I’m betting that he’d had virtually no sleep all weekend.
    He’s going to look a lot more alert in future appearances, I imagine.

  4. Can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve tried to explain that even a very severe psychiatric diagnosis does not equate with legal insanity. I’ve expected to be trapped in a conversation that his hair dye job was an act as prelude to an insanity defense (versus my reaction of the fact that by now, the judge and potential jury pool have seen him dig himself in deeper as a picture of his hair was inevitable).
    While the pundits try to, no reputable source is going to try to make a diagnosis based on what is known to date. For that matter, it is against the APA code of ethics to diagnose without a face-to-face. I’ll only say that obviously by his actions, there is a psychatric disorder present (Captain Obvious Hindsight). But whether the disorder reduces his legal and moral culpability is an entirely different question.

  5. Capital punishment always comes back when there’s “one of those rare cases that it fits”. Soon thereafter, it becomes a lot more common.
    It’s a slippery slope. When California hadn’t had any executions for a very long time, they were brought back by the case of a truly loathsome rapist/killer. If anyone “deserved” killing, it was him. Impossible to get anyone to feel sympathetic for the likes of him. But after he was executed it became easier to kill the next guy. Then the next one. Pretty soon you’re executing people whose actual guilt is uncertain.
    Free speech questions are often the same. People are for free speech until someone starts spouting truly hateful language and then some “free speech absolutists” will find that this is “one of those rare cases” when free speech should be suppressed.
    I’m a capital punishment absolutist. No state killing.

  6. Not to mention that even if this guy is found to be incompetent to stand trial, they can and will try to medicate to competence. He wouldn’t be released.

Comments are closed.