The "Insanity" Defense

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Number Six
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The "Insanity" Defense

Postby Number Six » Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:49 pm

It seems inevitable that tax protestors facing jail time or financial loss will try the "insanity" gambit. Is it a matter of pride or the ineffectiveness of this gambit that has led some defendants to employ it and others to reject it? The "king" of protestors, Irwin Schiff, took a chance with it, but one of the undercover experts on this site ferreted from his confidant that it was a desperate try. I suppose there are a number of tax protestors who have opted for some form of this. Lynne Meredith stuck to her guns on the merits of "the law" as interpreted by her. What happens when people plead such extenuating circumstance without proof, do the courts actually care about such defenses as they try to establish deterent penalties?
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)

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Number Six
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Re: The "Insanity" Defense

Postby Number Six » Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:56 pm

Thanks for the explanation. There are more subtle attempts with this gambit. I had an accountant who used to recommend as an option including with unfiled returns a request for cancelling penalties based on an unspecified "medical" condition. So could be the taxpayer had one of a whole host of possible physical, psychological, behavioral, religious, or legal problems which precluded the filings. In the case of those who used one of the t.p. legal "cookbooks" with form letters designed to thwart a leviathan agency, I would guess there wouldn't be much latitude given for yet another excuse. I tried one of Lynn Meredith's form letters to challenge a parking ticket, saying it was Constitutionally invalid for lack of a "charging document." The supervisor over the department was not amused and fired back an angry letter.
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)

Judge Roy Bean
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Re: The "Insanity" Defense

Postby Judge Roy Bean » Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:07 pm

I doubt we'll see much of it.

IMHO there are two facets to the issue:
(1)Was the perpetrator insane at the time of the act: " ... unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts." (Federal Insanity Defense Reform Act.)
(2)Is the defendant competent to stand trial: " ... has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him." (Dusky v. United States, SCOTUS.)

Those are two different things and either one or both may become relevant. Over the years and with advanced pharmacological intervention some conditions are manageable so a lot of the old ideas of "insanity" and a defense based on it are out the door.

At first glance it might be simple to say that a TP/TD was "unable to appreciate the ... wrongfulness of his acts," but proving that is a rough row to hoe especially at trial years and years after a non-filing or frivolous filing. It might be a mitigating factor in sentencing but as Easterbrook noted, belief in preposterous things that happen to coincide with your own self interest is not a defense.
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fortinbras
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Re: The "Insanity" Defense

Postby fortinbras » Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:19 pm

The insanity defense has been much discussed, much misunderstood, and much misapplied. The insanity defense, per se, is not likely to see much action in tax cases. More likely tax cases will see "diminished mental capacity", a much less impressive excuse but with a far lower threshhold of proof. Even so, this defense is skating uphill. Irwin Schiff tried it, and even with very considerable evidence that he has several screws loose, it did him little or no good.

One reason for this lack of rousing success is that any mental defect defense is pretty much contradicted in a tax case when the perp had sufficient presence and clarity of mind to do the paperwork, conceal his assets, work up the legalistic arguments, etc.

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Re: The "Insanity" Defense

Postby Duke2Earl » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:32 pm

The reason I doubt we will see much of this is egos as big as all outdoors. Can you see one of these nutballs like Toxic Chemical Spill or Silly Eagles (with their Pro Se tinfoil hats on) taking a defense that requires them to admit that all their painfully verbose "logic" is simply insane? I think most of them would rather go to prison.
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Number Six
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Re: The "Insanity" Defense

Postby Number Six » Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:16 pm

Thanks for the excellent feedback.

As Norman Mailer said, "Writer's block is simply a failure of ego." I am simply awed at the expansive, intricately-argued legal theories of the Sovereigns.

Still the "insanity" or "diminished capacity" defense is compelling as a way to cushion the inevitable blows of an offended legal system after being on a tear as Irwin Schiff had been for years. He had spent painful years as a caged animal before, he knew how bad it can get, what the food is like there, the philistine culture, going from paralyzing fear of the threats from other prisoners and jailers to crushing boredom and the "Romper-room hell" as Sherry Peel Jackson puts it.

"And then you can ground him?" Yossarian asked.

"No. Then I can't ground him."

"You mean there's a catch"?

"Sure there's a catch", Doc Daneeka replied.

"Catch 22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."
'There are two kinds of injustice: the first is found in those who do an injury, the second in those who fail to protect another from injury when they can.' (Roman. Cicero, De Off. I. vii)

'Choose loss rather than shameful gains.' (Chilon Fr. 10. Diels)


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