Michael 5260
James M. Fawcett
Wed Dec 12, 2018 13:34

Anna Hauptmann dumped lawyer Fawcett because she thought he wasn't doing enough for her husband. She was seeking a magician not a defense attorney.

It appears that Fawcett was attempting to take an insanity defense strategy based on the examination findings of the five psychiatrists that examined Hauptmann. The exam findings(Huddleson Report) were not favorable to Hauptmann's case. Sure, the psychiatrists found that Hauptmann had a couple of burnt valves in his head but he did not meet the standards of the M'Naghten Rule.

Under M'Naghten a person is legally insane if they were not mentally capable of understanding the nature of their actions or if they understood the nature of their actions, they were incapable of understanding that they were wrong legally or morally.

Fawcett was well aware that the evidence against Hauptmann was overwhelming and that the death penalty was being sought by the prosecution. An an insanity defense was of last resort.

There is an uphill battle with an insanity defense. In New Jersey it is an affirmative defense, meaning that the burden is on the defendant to prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence. The prosecution does not have to prove you were sane at the time of the actions at issue, but you must prove you were not sane.

There are drawbacks to this type of defense. If a jury accepts a criminal defense of not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant will be remanded to a psychiatric facility with no guarantee of ever being released. This prospect of lifetime confinement is a major reason why attorneys rarely recommend an insanity plea.

Fawcett had a desperate, hopeless case on his hands and he knew it. The chances were slim to none but a successful insanity defense would have saved Hauptmann's life. Fawcett does not get the credit he deserves for having Hauptmann examined by psychiatrists.

The major fly in the ointment regarding an insanity defense was Hauptmann himself. With this defense strategy the defendant has to admit they committed the crime but asserts that they were not responsible for their actions due to mental illness. Based on what we know about Hauptmann's personality he would never have admitted to the crime. His intention was to walk out of court a free man.

A defense attorney can only do so much. If the client/defendant thinks they know it all and wants to shoot craps with the Grim Reaper the attorney is helpless to stop it.

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