Fisher v. United States

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For the similarly named court case, see Fischer v. United States

In Fisher v. United States, 328 U.S. 463, 66 S. Ct. 1318, 90 L. Ed. 1382 (1946), the United States Supreme Court reviewed the insanity defense and due process.

There the defendant requested an instruction from the trial court that the jury consider his mental deficiencies in determining his capacity for premeditation and deliberation. Id. at 470. The Court noted that "[i]n view of the status of the defense of partial responsibility in the District and the nation no contention is or could be made of the denial of due process." Id. at 466.

Justice Kennedy later speculated in Clark v. Arizona that "[t]his dictum may be attributable to the fact that the cases recognizing a defendant's evidentiary rights and the prosecution's duty to prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt were still decades away. It may also reflect the fact that the jury instructions as given did seem to allow the jury to consider evidence of mental deficiency if it disproved the elements of the offense." (citing 328 U.S. at 467 n. 3 (The jury instructions stated, "'It is further contended that even if sane and responsible, there was no deliberate intent to kill, nor in fact any actual intent to kill. Therefore if not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant at most is guilty only of second degree murder or manslaughter.'"))