You are on page 1of 3

Jeremiah Johnson

Mrs. Hensel
English IV Honors
13 February 2015
Annotated Bibliography: Insanity in Law
"Insanity." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls
New World Encyclopedia. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
This article explains that insanity, when used legally, is a term used to refer to someone whose
mental condition makes them unable to stand trial, be responsible for their own actions, and/or
be properly punished for them. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a person must have
sufficient present ability to stand trial and consult with and understand a lawyer for a trial to be
valid. An incompetent defendant cant be tried in a criminal court. Thanks to this a plea of
insanity can be used to absolve someone of responsibility for a crime they committed, at least
legal responsibility. Several tests have been developed to find out if someone could be
considered mentally incompetent at the time they committed a crime or if they were in some
other way mentally ill that they were less responsible for their crime or even not responsible at
all, resulting in a less severe sentence or the lack of one at all. However since its such a
confusing subject and theres no set standard of insanity, rules differ from place to place and case
to case. Insanity or mental illness can also affect many civil law situations with the person being
found incapable of doing various things and with rulings meant to fix that.
This article can be used to give me a definition of insanity and to discuss how mental instability
can affect someones legal rights and responsibilities. The information is provides is objective
and it talks about many different legal subjects which will help me to understand and explain the
topic. It gives me examples of both criminal and civil law being affected by mental illness or
instability, and talks about what would be considered mental incompetence. I find the source to
be reliable, informative, and unbiased, so I can use it to help me start writing my research paper.
This article is a good starting point for me, giving me the legal definition of insanity and a few
examples of how it affects people and cases. It helps to show that people who are insane or in
some way mentally ill arent always aware of what theyve done or that its wrong so they cant
be held responsible for their actions. This supports what I already felt about the topic, but now I
need to find some examples of cases where people who were mentally ill were still convicted,
because insanity isnt always a get out of jail free card, if they are mentally unable to understand
what theyve done or that they shouldnt have then I agree with it but if not they deserve no
special treatment. It helps me to think about what I need to research next and to start to put
together a rough outline of my research paper.

Morse, Dan. "Mom accused of killing kids in 'Demon Assassins' case will use insanity defense."
Washington Post 14 Mar. 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
This article talks about a case in which a woman and her friend stabbed to death two infants
claiming they were possessed by demons. Her attorney says that they plan to use an insanity
defense to remove the blame from the woman, but there is some doubt as to whether or not it will
work. She tried to run out of the back door when the police arrived, showing she might have
been aware of her wrong doing. Her accomplice and roommate's attorney hasnt said whether or
not he is going to also try an insanity defense.
This article can be used to give an example of someone who used the insanity defense in an
actual court case. I can use this to show the wide spread knowledge and possible use of the
insanity defense in different cases. I can show that if she was actually unaware of the wrongness
of her deeds, and she had previously been committed to a mental health facility, then she wasnt
guilty. This case will help me develop my point and to make my paper better. The information
included in it is reliable, unbiased, and informative about the case.
This article helps me to develop my point on how people who are insane cant be held criminally
responsible for their actions, but should be dealt with in a manner befitting their mental state. I
can use this as an example to make it clearer to people and strengthen the support for my point in
my research paper. Using a case like this, graphic and horrific, makes it clear how serious of an
issue this is and how it affects people. I can then go on to use other examples to continue this line
of argument, showing how serious insanity is and how it affects law.
Storey, Tony. "Self-Defence: Insane Delusions And Reasonable Force." Journal Of Criminal
Law 78.1 (2014): 12-15.Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Feb. 2015
This article talks about a case in which a man was found in a cafe acting strangely and assaulted
police officers when they tried to remove him. The man at the time of the event believed in a
conspiracy against him and that the officers were agents of the evil spirits plotting against him
and would harm him. The focus of the case is on whether or not it should be taken as an act of
self-defense if at the time he was responding with what he believed to be reasonable force. The
man was found not guilty by reason of insanity, but the self-defense claim was refused to prevent
setting a legal precedent for such a case.
This article is an unbiased, informative, and reliable account of a court case and the situation
leading up to it. It is somewhat similar to the other source I used, as both are a description of a
case with an insanity defense, but this one is more in depth and talks about the actual rulings. I
find this to be a useful source because it gives me another thing to talk about and build my
research paper upon.
This article helps me by giving me another case with an insanity defense used, successfully in
this case, and brings up an interesting case about self-defense. I believe that this will also help
me build up my point with the other example and showing how insanity is a widespread thing

and can cover many kinds of crime and people. Since this man successfully plead insanity it is
also helpful to me in my point about how those who are insane cant be held criminally
responsible. I believe that this will actually be the more important example in my paper, with the
other mostly used for shock value to show the seriousness of the issue.