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Identification Of Significant Court Cases In American Judicial System (Coursework Sample)


Identification of significant court cases in the American judicial system regarding the state's responsibility of taking care of prisoners' needs. I also analyzed cases on mental instability and the ambiguities linked to it when charging an individual with a certain crime.

Landmark Cases Name Student’s Affiliation Landmark Cases Godinez v. Moran (1993) After killing several individuals and attempting suicide, Allan Moran confessed to the crimes while on his hospital bed. However, he pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. Experts ascertained that he was mentally fit to undergo legal trial. A few months later, he sought to plead guilty to the killings and dismiss his lawyers. Upon receiving the death sentence, he appealed the ruling on the grounds of psychological instability. The court’s decision was momentous since it indicated that a person found to be fit for trial is capable of pleading guilty and renouncing his or her right to an attorney (Appelbaum, 1993). The verdict was crucial in determining the validity of a suspect’s move to discharge counsel. United States v. Brawner (1972) Brawner, the appellant, was incarcerated on charges of murder and possessing a weapon. As indicated in the Durham Rule, a court cannot sentence a criminal if he or she was mentally unstable during the act. The contentious issue, which highlights the significance of this case in the U.S. judicial system, was the validity of the conventional approach of testing insanity. The traditional method focused on the presence or absence of irresistible impulse (United States v. Brawner, 1972). Accordingly, the court sought to determine the essence of a new evaluation procedure. Wellman v. Faulkner (1983) In this court case, the criminals held at Indiana State Prison filed a civil suit against the prison’s administration. The inmates stated that detainment in an overcrowded facility was a violation of their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs also complained about the deplorable healthcare system and overall state of the institution. The District Court ruled that the overcrowding was unlawful but disagreed with the petitioners on the prison’s medical care structure. However, upon appealing the verdict, the complainants received a favorable decision from the Seventh Circuit. The judges ordered the improvement of the institution’s healthcare system (Wellman v. Faulkner, 1983). Indeed, this case is significant in emphasizing the state’s responsibility of fulfilling prisoners’ basic needs. In line with the Eighth Amendment, convicts have the right to quality medical services since the denial of these privileges is not part of their sentence. Washington v. Harper (1990) The plaintiff in this case was Harper, a prisoner in Washington. He took the state government to court for treating him with antipsychotic prescriptions against his will. Notably, his mental instability made him violent. The Special Offender Center indicated that it adhered to the relevant policies throughout the decision-making process on Harper’s treatment. The initial judge dismissed the plaintiff’s assertions that the state’s actions violated the due clause segment embedded in the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the Supreme Court and American Psychological Association (APA) disagreed with the ruling. The focus of this court case was on whether the government has constitutional powers to treat an incarcerated individual diagnosed with psychosis without his or her consent or conducting an official review (Ritter, Witt, & Del Carmen, 2015). While the due process rules indicate that the state should not hurt a person in any way without observing the enacted laws, it has the mandate of upholding the welfare of all civilians. Accordingly, the prison’s administration had the right to protect Harper and other people from the violent attacks associated with his mental illness. Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) Leroy Hendricks was a serial sex offender. The government of Kansas sought the assistance of the Supreme Court to commit the prisoner indefinitely. The decision of the state and subsequent court ruling was founded on the Sexually Violent Predator Act, which defines pedophilia as a mental illness. In fact, Hendricks attested to the diagnosis and stated that he was likely to molest minors in the future. However, he argued that subjecting him to civil commitment was against the due process law (Kansas v. Hendricks, 1997). This court case is significant in substantiating the assertion that state and federal governments have the mandate of controlling mentally unstable persons through appropriate approaches as a way of protecting their wellbeing and that of others. In this scenario, Hendricks’ release posed a threat to the safety of children residing in Kansas. The consequent resolution to enroll him into a mental facility did not violate the due process policy since the state aimed at dealing with his psychological condition rather than harming him. McKune v. Lile (2002) Robert Lile had been imprisoned for kidnapping and raping a young girl. Prior to his release, the justice system’s officers forced him to par...
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