Psychological Disorders: The Ford Vs. Wainwright Case

1987 Words 8 Pages
Sane Enough to Die Imagine a state of paranoia so great that it starts to seem as if one’s own thoughts are not their own, or auditory and visual hallucinations that continuously speak of the inferiority of the masses, creating an intense sense of superiority in oneself. Such experiences are just a few of the possible symptoms of schizophrenia, a fairly well recognized psychological disorder present in today’s society. Psychological disorders are an incredibly real issue in the modern world that do not receive nearly enough consideration and understanding. It is this issue of mental illness that creates much controversy and indecisiveness in establishing legal guidelines for determining mental competence in the eyes of the law. Specifically, the Supreme Court case of Ford versus (v) Wainwright attempted to establish the constitutionality of executing someone deemed psychologically unfit after the trial process, as well as adequate procedures for doing so. However, due to the ambiguous …show more content…
The concept of legal competence to stand trial in the United States can be traced back to English common law dating from at least the 17th century (Zapf and Roesch 4). It was not until the 1960s that the United States established the modern day standard for determining competence to stand trial with the Supreme Court case of Dusky v United States (Zapf and Roesch 6). This case established that a “defendant must have sufficient present ability to consult with a lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, as well as factual understanding of the proceeding” in order to be considered psychologically qualified to stand trial (Zapf and Roesch 7). This baseline for determining competence for trial formed the foundation for determining competence for execution in the Ford v Wainwright

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