Monthly Archives: February 2022

The Insanity Defense in the Real World

Someone commits a crime but is found “not guilty by reason of insanity”. It doesn’t happen just on TV – it’s a real defense entered by a defendant in a criminal trial. The defendant claims that they were so mentally disturbed or incapacitated at the time of the offense that they did not have the required intention to commit the crime and is therefore not guilty – even though they committed the crime. But as Elliot Levine, a noted criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts, will explain, this rarely used defense strategy can be difficult for the defense team.

In this episode, Levine and a former client, Pat, will discuss Levine’s successful defense using the insanity defense when Pat was tried for robbery. Pat is an Army veteran who held up a convenience store upon returning to the US after serving on the front lines in the Vietnam War. Levine argued that Pat was suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from his combat experiences. Levine will also share another instance in which he successfully used the insanity defense in a murder trial in front of a jury.

Above Suspicion: The Rise and Ruin of an FBI Agent

When Mark Putnam graduated from the FBI Academy in 1986, he seemed to have it all: the new career he’d dreamed about his entire life, darkly handsome good looks, an attractive wife from a rich family, a new baby daughter and another child on the way. His first big assignment took them to the podunk town of Pikeville KY, Hatfield and McCoy country, where Mark’s productive record of arrests seemed to make him a model agent. But his secret sexual entanglement with FBI paid informant Susan Smith (an attractive, loose-lipped, high-school dropout, drug user and sometimes prostitute) began a dark spiral downward. When Susan went missing in June 1989, not one bit of evidence led to her whereabouts. Then Mark did something that startled his colleagues and led to his becoming the first FBI agent in history to be charged with and convicted of murder. Was Susan murdered to cover up the affair after she threatened to tell his wife and the FBI she was carrying Mark’s unborn child?