Contractual Capacity: What It Takes To Sign A Valid Contract
Undue Influence: When Suggestions About Changing A Will Turn To Coercion
A 90-year-old woman with moderate dementia signs a contract to buy a new car. A man with Schizophrenia wants to buy his first house. A woman with severe mania signs divorce documents.
Are any of these contracts legal in Colorado? Or, would an attorney have a strong case to argue that any of these individuals did not have the capacity to sign a valid contract?
The Fees Of An Expert Witness: When A Surgeon And A Judge Collide
Testamentary capacity and being “of sound mind” is an easy hurdle to clear. Many times, though, the idea of undue influence is not explored when contesting a person’s last will and testament. Colorado law has a lot to say about this issue.
The State Must Provide Access To Psychologists For Sanity Evaluations: Ake v. Oklahoma (1985)
The curious case from 1896 of the surgeon who defied a court order for reasons that are not entirely known.
Dr. Death, This Side of the Twilight Zone: Estelle v. Smith (1981)
Due to the landmark legal decision in Ake v. Oklahoma (1985), states are required to provide access to psychologists if a person’s mental health is going to be a factor at trial or sentencing and the person couldn’t otherwise afford to hire one privately.
The Death Penalty and Juvenile Offenders
Dr. Grigson was hired to conduct a pretrial competency evaluation in 1973. The case involved Ernest Smith, who was arrested for participating in an armed robbery where an accomplice killed a grocery store clerk. Dr. Grigson reported that Mr. Smith was competent to stand trial and he labeled Mr. Smith a "severe sociopath."
How Jurors Respond to Expert Witness Confidence and Why Attorneys Should Prep Their Witnesses
A 2005 decision by the US Supreme Court makes it unconstitutional to execute anyone who committed murder prior to the age of 18. The details of the groundbreaking case of Roper v. Simmons are summarized here.
Competency to Stand Trial and Standard of Proof
The upshot for attorneys: jurors take expert witness confidence into account and use it to make decisions about the credibility of the witness. It also affects their deliberations and trial outcomes, so find good witnesses, make sure they do solid work, and then prepare them for testimony.
Cooper v. Oklahoma (1996) is the United States Supreme Court decision that forced states to uniformly adopt the “preponderance of evidence” standard for criminal competency hearing.