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Man loses insanity defense appeal

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A Marion County court correctly rejected the insanity defense entered by a man who suffers from bipolar disorder and alcoholism in his attempted murder bench trial, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.

John Berry was on trial for attacking Tony Monday, a man helping Berry’s father renovate a house. The weekend prior to the attack, Berry drank heavily; the attack took place on a Monday. When police arrived, they found Berry’s behavior to be nonchalant and calm, he offered no resistance, and his speech was clear. He did give nonsensical answers as to why he attacked Monday.

A court-appointed psychiatrist and psychologist, as well as a psychiatrist hired by the defense, submitted reports and testified as to Berry’s mental status during the attack. None of the experts cited that Berry suffered delierum tremens, which is a type of settled insanity caused by the chronic abuse of alcohol, at the time of the attack. Two of the three experts testified that Berry suffered from bipolar disorder during the attack and didn’t appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct. One expert believed it was the consumption of alcohol that caused the attack.

The trial court rejected Berry’s insanity defense, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, concluding Berry suffered from “settled insanity” due to his prolonged and chronic abuse of alcohol.

“The intersection of voluntary intoxication and insanity is murky at best,” wrote Justice Steven David for the court. “Certainly, not all chronic alcoholics have destroyed their mental faculties to the point where they suffer from a mental disease as defined in Indiana’s insanity statute. On the other hand, consumption of alcohol prior to committing an offense does not automatically rule out the insanity defense, as the underlying cause of a defendant’s behavior could be a mental disease.”

The justices ruled it’s ultimately up to the trier of fact to determine whether the defendant’s conduct was the result of a diseased mind, regardless of the source of the disease, or whether it was the result of voluntary intoxication.

They agreed that “settled insanity” is a mental disease or defect as defined by the insanity statute, but found conflicting evidence in this case whether Berry suffered from such a condition.

There was credible expert testimony that his behavior was caused by the voluntary abuse of alcohol and not a mental disease or defect, David wrote, so the justices affirmed the rejection of Berry’s insanity defense in John Berry v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1110-CR-611.

 

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  3. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  4. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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