Dissociation : Vol. 3, No. 4, p. 195-203 : The legal defense of persons with the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder
Savitz, David B.
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Savitz, David B.
This paper is based on the experience of a trial attorney who spent more than six years representing a young man accused of killing his parents. After being diagnosed as suffering from multiple personality disorder (MPD), issues regarding that defendant 's sanity and competency were litigated extensively. What became painfully obvious during that experience is that the defense of MPD is in its infancy stages and that there are only a handful of appellate decisions which discuss the disorder in the context of criminal responsibility. The decisions, however, do not articulate a sophisticated understanding of the disorder and for the most part are very restrictive in their analyses. Issues of insanity were normally couched in terms of the mental state of the perpetrating alter as opposed to the accused 's mind as a whole. In one case, lip service was paid to an accused 's amnesia with respect to the issue of competency. No reported case found a defendant insane or incompetent. The author describes the various legal tests that may exist throughout the country with respect to these mental conditions. He suggests arguments to be made to convince a factfinder that the accused meets these tests and highlights counter-arguments that may be anticipated on behalf of the adversary. Finally, he outlines the types of evidence that should be amassed for the successful defense of one suffering from this controversial mental disorder.