Best Defender Bytes:

October 28, 2009

Can an insane defendant choose the plea he wants to enter?

Defendant wants to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Court holds that a defendant can choose to enter whatever plea he wants, even a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Defendant’s conviction for burglary, attempted robbery, and related crimes is affirmed as, although the trial court erred in refusing to allow defendant to exercise his personal statutory right to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) and in failing to remove defense counsel who refused to allow defendant to enter his NGI plea, both of the errors are harmless in light of abundant, uncontradicted evidence in the record demonstrating there was no factual basis for a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity where defendant claimed he was hallucinating from crystal methamphetamine use while playing the video game Grand Theft Auto for 10 hours.

People v. Henning 10/14/2009 Case No. C060371 __ Cal.App.4th__


Plaintiff and Respondent,
Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Placer County, Charles D. Wachob, Judge. Affirmed.
Law Offices of John F. Schuck and John F. Schuck, under
appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Edmund G. Brown Jr., Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Senior Assistant Attorney General, David A. Rhodes and Ivan P. Marrs, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
After a marathon session of playing the Grand Theft Auto video game, and while hallucinating under the influence of

illicit drugs, defendant Jaisen Lee Henning donned a black ski mask and wielded a sawed-off shotgun in an attempt to rob a randomly chosen business. Fleeing from the scene, Henning led police officers on a high-speed car chase before being apprehended.

A jury convicted defendant of burglary (Pen. Code, § 459),1 attempted robbery (§§ 211, 664), assault with a firearm (§ 245, subd. (a) (2)), evading a police officer (Veh. Code, § 2800.2, subd. (a)), and possession of a sawed-off shotgun (§ 12020, subd. (a) (1)). On appeal, defendant argues that (1) he should have been allowed to plead not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) because he committed his crimes while believing he was merely following the goals of the video game he had been playing, (2) his request for a second substitution of appointed counsel should have been granted pursuant to People v. Marsden
(1970) 2 Cal.3d 118 (Marsden), and (3) CALCRIM No. 220 failed to instruct the jury that each element of the charged offenses required proof beyond a reasonable doubt. (more…)

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