Proving Insanity at Hinckley's Trial -- Why did the Defense Succeed?
THE PROSECUTOR'S BURDEN
At the time Hinckley's defense lawyers persuaded the jury to find him not guilty, federal law required the prosecution to prove a defendant's sanity beyond a reasonable doubt once the defendant offered any evidence at all of insanity. It is likely that the not guilty by reason of insanity verdict is a direct result of the prosecutor's failure to meet this heavy burden.
JUROR'S REACTION TO THE VERDICT
After the verdict, several jurors acknowledged that having heard psychiatric experts testify on both sides of the issue made it impossible for them to apply the law and reach any other conclusion. Jurors expressed personal dissatisfaction with the result; but, believed they were reaching the correct result under the law as it existed in 1982.