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Blake v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
407 F.2d 908 (1969)



Blake (defendant) came from a well-to-do family, completed two years of college and briefly served in the Navy until he was given a medical discharge after suffering an epileptic seizure. The following year, Blake underwent electroshock therapy for the first time and subsequently was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment. Over the next 20 years, Blake required extensive psychiatric care including inpatient hospitalization and electroshock treatment. He was also a heavy drinker and drug user during this time. In his 30s, Blake was twice judged to be incompetent and hospitalized in mental institutions for periods of six months. He also had several failed marriages and sporadic periods of employment. Blake served a brief prison sentence when his probation was revoked for shooting his second wife because of a separate charge of aggravated assault. While staying at a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida, Blake had a hotel employee drive him to a local bar where he had several drinks and told a waitress that he would be back later with a large sum of money. The hotel employee then drove Blake to a bank with which he had a long-standing dispute. Blake walked into the bank during rush hour, demanded money, obtained it, and walked out. The following day, Blake was arrested and charged with bank robbery under 18 U.S.C.A. § 2113. Six months later, Blake was convicted of the crime after a jury trial where his principal defense was insanity at the time of the commission of the robbery. Blake appealed, arguing that the definition of insanity given to the jury for determining whether he was not guilty by reason of insanity was outmoded and prejudicial.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bell, J.)

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