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Hastings Law Journal

Authors

Kate E. Bloch

Abstract

In almost all U.S. jurisdictions, a qualifying mental illness that prevents an accused from distinguishing right from wrong can provide support for a determination of legal insanity. Nonetheless, “wrongfulness” remains a term of myriad and somewhat elusive meanings. Instead of enhancing clarity, by engaging with simplified examples, the U.S. Supreme Court’s broad-brush approach in its 2020 majority and dissenting opinions in Kahler v. Kansas threatens to exacerbate confusion about “wrongfulness” in legal insanity doctrine. This Article surfaces challenges in the Court’s and dissent’s analyses and aims to discourage reliance on problematic assumptions about “wrongfulness” in insanity law.

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