Clark v. Arizona
August 27, 2013
Clark v. Arizona
The United States Supreme Court has heard thousands of cases across the country. The case of Clark v. Arizona brings to light the mens rea of a mentally ill individual’s state of mind. This case is interesting and challenges the state of Arizona’s due process when conducting psychiatric tests on an individual charged with a crime. The prosecution found Clark was criminally liable for his actions and all elements of the crime were present.
Summary of the Case
Eric Michael Clark was charged with murdering an Arizona police officer. Clark was a paranoid schizophrenic and was not able to submit evidence during his trial that would exonerate him of the ability to commit the crime charged. Under Arizona law, Clark was permitted to present evidence of his psychiatric condition to support an insanity defense. Arizona law states that an insanity defense must establish by clear and convincing evidence that as a result of mental illness at the time of the crime he “did not know the criminal act was wrong.” ("Clark v. arizona," 2006)
The judge in Clark’s case refused to consider psychiatric evidence to reject his mens rea, due to nonsupport of Arizona case law. Clark’s conviction was also sustained by The Arizona Court of Appeals.
Accomplice liability is the principle that anyone who assists a person in committing a crime should share the same criminal liability under the law. In the case of Clark v. Arizona, Clark acted alone when committing the murder of a police officer.
The principles of criminal liability are what prosecutors need to prove a crime has been committed, beyond a reasonable doubt, also known as the “corpus delicti rule”. When a person commits murder, the prosecution needs prove actus reus, mens rea, concurrence, causation, and harm. Clark argued that he was not legally sane to know the difference...