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People v. Fields

California Supreme Court
35 Cal. 3d 329 (1983)


After his arrest for a crime spree involving murder, kidnapping, and rape, Stevie Lamar Fields (defendant) offered a defense of insanity at the trial. Fields presented an expert witness who testified that Fields suffered from an antisocial personality, which is the modern term for psychopaths and sociopaths. The witness testified that this was a mental disease, which rendered Fields unable to conform his behavior to legal requirements. The witness also testified that Fields lacked the interest, concern, or ability to conform to social roles. During cross-examination, the witness was asked if Fields had a mental disease if that term was defined to exclude an abnormality that manifested only by repeated or otherwise antisocial conduct. The witness answered, under that definition, Fields did not have a mental disease. The trial court instructed the jury that, for the purpose of the defense of insanity, the term mental disease did not include an abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct. The jury convicted Fields. Because the death penalty was imposed, his appeal was automatic.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Broussard, J.)

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