← Previous Post: | Next Post:


One problem with Amy Bishop having now pleaded not guilty…

… by reason of insanity is that her students reported she’d taught a class in her usual fashion – reading from the book, mainly, but nothing out of the ordinary – just before she opened fire on her colleagues.

(Click on the category of this post – Amy Bishop – for background.)

Margaret Soltan, September 22, 2011 12:32PM
Posted in: amy bishop

Trackback URL for this post:

6 Responses to “One problem with Amy Bishop having now pleaded not guilty…”

  1. Mr Punch Says:

    But she’s not pleading temporary insanity, is she? There’s substantial evidence that she’s been nuts for a long time – or are you arguing that craziness would of course preclude teaching at a university?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mr Punch: I believe she’s pleading insanity – “mental defect” is the phrase I’ve been reading. And that’s the problem, it seems to me – though I’m far from a lawyer. She killed her brother decades and decades ago and has always been weird and even maybe a bit menacing… But she got her PhD, moved her career along, taught (Her students complained about her from time to time, but nothing came of it, so how bad could she have been? And some of her students praised her teaching.), married, raised children… So while there has certainly been evidence over many years of her strangeness, she has not been a psychotic who cannot function. Getting a Harvard PhD, marrying, raising a brood of children — these are not the acts of a psychotic.

    The day of the shooting, Bishop taught her anatomy and neurosciences class. According to a student in Bishop’s class, she “seemed perfectly normal” during the lecture.[2]

  3. jim Says:

    It’s not as though she had a great deal of choice. She can’t say she didn’t do it. She can’t say it was accidental. She can’t say it was self-defense. Her choice is between guilty and insanity. In some states, a guilty plea will obviate the death penalty, but I somehow doubt that Alabama is one of them. There’s no motive for the prosecutor to do a deal to avoid a trial (the prosecutor is probably hungry for a trial). So an insanity plea is likely the only action that could lead to her surviving this. It may be a very small possibility, but it’s non-zero.

  4. Mike S. Says:

    Is not teaching in the usual manner and then blasting away at the faculty a sure sign of “insanity” in the colloquial sense? It seems “more insane”, if you will entertain such a phrase, than being upset and then pulling the trigger.

    The legal “insanity” defense relies on establishing that the defendant didn’t know what they did was wrong (or that it would generally be perceived as wrong by others) at the time of the act. This would be a very different thing from the understanding of the term insanity by the average Joe.
    (I am not a lawyer, and don’t presume to be authoritative here, just my understanding of the issue. How screwed is our society if I feel compelled to write that? Maybe it’s just me.)

    My take: Sure, she’s “crazy” but not the kind of crazy that will result in acquittal by reason of insanity.
    The guy in AZ who almost put Giffords six feet under… now that’s a good candidate for an insanity defense. Loughner is batsh@t insane.

  5. Andrew Migerman Says:

    how did one university have the sense to say ‘do not admit under any circumstances’ about james holmes?


    the article doesnt say. does his application essay sound spectacularly off? Iowa ends up looking way astute.

  6. susan b. Says:

    “Getting a Harvard PhD, marrying, raising a brood of children — these are not the acts of a psychotic.”
    Well, seriously disturbed people can do it – absolutely! I don’t know what to call her, but I don’t think she acted normal during that time. She (undoubtedly) sent a pipe bomb to a former colleague, bashed a woman in the head at a restaurant, caused trouble in their neighborhood, killed her brother – and those are just the things we know about. One professor and UAH recognized immediately that she had problems, was “crazy,” as he put it. She complained about that remark, but he did not retract it. No, she is crazy all right.

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE