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A Matter Over Mind Essay

582 words - 3 pages

A Matter over Mind
Leta McDaniel
Elizabeth Stepp

A Matter over Mind
The difference between mental illness and insanity is with a mental illness a person still knows right from wrong while an insane person cannot distinguish between the two. The important second prong of the M’Naghten rule is that the person must know right from wrong. Therefore Clark would have had to know at the time what he was doing was wrong in order to be guilty of intent. (Gibeaut, John Apr2006, Vol. 92)
The M’Naghten rule cannot be used for a person who drinks alcohol prior to committing a crime because they know that by drinking in the first place they put others at risk with their actions that follow. It is a lot like premeditation. (Gibeaut, John Apr2006, Vol. 92) ...view middle of the document...

If I were deciding this case I would have to look at the fact that witnesses stated that Clark said he was going to kill a police officer. This means that he premeditated the murder. His claim that he thought the officer was an alien has little merit. I do believe he is insane but after studying law for a year I know that premeditation does not warrant an insanity plea. I do think that Clark needs to be tried by a jury and not just a judge. If he is not competent enough to stand trial then they should have given him the insanity conviction and placed him in a Hospital for the criminally insane.
After hearing Clark’s history I would have to assume that drug abuse may be the cause of the paranoid schizophrenia which puts Clark in the position of not being able to use the M’Naghten rule because he had been drinking prior to the act. Alcohol or drug abuse can cause paranoid schizophrenia, I know this because my father was diagnosed with it and his doctors stated that it was brought on by his alcoholism. If that is the case, the M’Naghten rule would not apply.
In my opinion people who have severe psychological problems or even minor ones deserve a chance to get better with help from professionals and medication. Many of those people should not be among society because they are a danger to others. It is just a shame that even when we know they are a danger to others we have to wait until they kill or hurt somebody before we can do something. A perfect example is my stepdad’s cousin whose family tried for years to have committed. They knew he was dangerous and begged for help. The authorities could do nothing until he did something illegal. Then one day he drove up to the local grocery store and open fired on several people killing 5.

1. Gibeaut, John ABA Journal; Apr2006, Vol. 92 Issue 4, p32-39, 7p

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