Pupule v. Make Ulu Nui: Insanity Plea Then and Now

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Thursday, May 22, 2014 – 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm  –   Aliiolani Hale

The insanity plea has a long history in Anglo-American law. The proposition that some defendants should not be held responsible for their actions by reason of their mental state has been espoused as early as 1851. By the mid-twentieth century, some in the legal and psychiatric circles began questioning the standards and guidelines for evaluating the criminally insane. Since then, many states have changed their insanity-defense statutes, shifting the burden and standard of proof in ways to make it more difficult to sustain an insanity plea. Hawaiʻi too, has experienced a groundswell of sentiment against the insanity plea. “What might be shocking to some Hawaiʻi residents is that this ‘centuries-old English law’ has roots here in the islands that span a period of over 160 years.” (Poai: 2000)

Every society has individuals whose behavior deviates from, or violates, mainstream expectations. Join us on May 22, as Avis Poai shares 19th Century insanity plea cases from the Kingdom of Hawaii’s courts. Poai is the Director of Archives and Legal History, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Veteran defense attorney Brook Hart joins the conversation to discuss contemporary issues regarding use of the insanity plea. Hart began his legal career in Hawaiʻi in 1966 as a law clerk for the Honorable Martin Pence, United States District Court for Hawaiʻi, and later became the Chief Public Defender for the Legal Aid Society. In addition to his private practice specializing in criminal defense and Constitutional law, Hart is an adjunct faculty member of the William S. Richardson School of Law, and co-instructor of the Hawaiʻi Innocence Project.

Free and open to the public. Light refreshments served.

RSVP by May 21, 2014 to 539-4999 or click here to register.

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