Monday, May 22, 2006

A Precedent for the Demise of the Insanity Defense?

Lou Michaels writes at Suits in the Workplace about a recent decision by the Massachusetts Judicial Supreme Court:

Looking to both Massachusetts and federal disability law, the court noted that nothing in the Massachusetts law suggested that a lower standard of conduct should apply to handicapped employees vice employees without a disability. Examining a specific case involving drunken behavior by an alcoholic employee of an airline, the court refused to distinguish between misconduct due to alcoholism and misconduct due to mental illness. In other words, an employer is not required to "accommodate" a disabled employee by altering the fundamental conduct standards of the workplace. The dissent misses this key point, and opens the door to a completely unmanageable workforce, by trying to save the case noting that a "reasonable" jury could conclude that the conduct was not egregious because it was the result of mental illness.

In other words, the majority's opinion rejects the notion that conduct is excused by mental illness. "Conduct" includes murder, no? Ergo, murder should not be excused by mental illness, perhaps not even in Massachusetts. End of "not guilty by reaon of insanity" -- I wish.

Related post: I'll Never Understand the Insanity Defense