Friday, January 07, 2005

Park it here

I didn't follow the Andrea Yates case closely. But when I read her murder convictions were overturned due to false information given by expert witness Park Dietz, that caught my eye.

Dr. Dietz is maybe the most famous forensic pyschiatrists in the U.S. He's worked on such cases as John Hinckley, Jeffrey Dahmer, John DuPont, Susan Smith and the Unabomber. I'm not a fan. Looking at his career, it strikes me he doesn't much like the insanity plea, and is more likely to declare the accused legally guilty than a more independent psychiatrist might.

Now maybe the insanity defense is too easy to plead (though it doesn't seem so to me) or needs to be fixed, but the solution then is to change the law, not get around it. I'm not saying Dietz is simply a hired gun for the prosecution, but perhaps, let's say, he's just a bit too set in his ways.

Update: In today's LA Times, the Yates' defense mocks Dietz as a gun for hire. The question now is will his reputation as the top guy to get any crazy convicted be damaged.


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