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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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