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Insanity Defense

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An evaluation of a recent case of mass shootings in the United States, in which James Holmes opened fire on people attending the screening of The Dark Knight Rises, highlights various conditions upon which the defendant’s lawyer can employ the provisions of insanity defense, and seek the defendant’s acquittal. Holmes’s actions before and after the shooting incident demonstrate that he was not in the right state of mind during his actions, and highlight the issue of an irresistible impulse that drives one to commit an offense. Investigations on the incident report Holmes to have had certain psychiatric problems. He was in possession of prescribed medication and had attempted to communicate with his psychiatrist before the shooting incident occurred (Wagner, 2013). Furthermore, Holmes reportedly assumed the role of the Joker. Considering these factors, Holmes may have suffered an irresistible impulse that led to his actions.

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Employing forensic psychology in Holmes’s case would help the prosecutor to determine whether Holmes’s actions could be termed as similar to the behaviors exhibited by perpetrators of pre-meditated mass murders, or contained bizarre aspects that require a different approach to the case. Evidence on the effects of the Aurora shooting on the suspect and his intelligence will help to determine if the shooting was premeditated. In addition, forensic psychology will provide an overview concerning Holmes’s tendency towards radical notions and volatility, which could have led to his actions.

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As a therapist, I would request the jury to evaluate Holmes outside the scope of a mass murder because he does not exhibit related characteristics. Holmes had not prior relationship with his victims or even groups to which the victims had any form of affiliation. The fact the Holmes survived the shooting and surrendered to the police eliminates conceptualized suicide, which is a common element in pre-meditated killings. Holmes’s actions portray him as incapacitated in discerning the nature and wronfulness of his actions.

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