Friday, February 17, 2012

Madness or Badness: Duran and the Evolution of the Insanity Defense in the D.C. Circuit

Francisco Duran, who occasionally claimed to be God, said he fired 29 shots through the White House fence to remove a pernicious "mist" that hung over the White House.  The prosecutor said he was a disturbed fame-seeker, angry at the government, who could have been faking a mental disorder.   That case - and Duran's 1995 conviction - provide the framework  for a program on the evolution of the federal insanity defense which the Historical Society will present on Wednesday, April 11, 4:30-6 p.m., in the Ceremonial  Courtroom  of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse.

Stephen J. Morse, Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania , is scheduled to describe the case and the procession of rules governing the defense, followed by a compressed rendition of the closing arguments by the lawyers who made them, then Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Dubelier, now a partner at Reed Smith, and Federal Public Defender for the D.C. Circuit, A.J. Kramer.   Dr. Patrick Canavan, Chief Executive Officer at St. Elizabeths, will join these participants on a panel which will assess the success or futility of changes Congress imposed after the John Hinckley case.  A reception will follow the program.  Everyone is welcome.