247 N.E.2d 293 (Ohio 1969), 68-681, State v. Staten

Docket Nº:68-681.
Citation:247 N.E.2d 293, 18 Ohio St.2d 13
Opinion Judge:KERNS, J., of the Second Appellate District, sitting for HERBERT, J. TAFT, C.J.
Party Name:The STATE of Ohio, Appellee, v. STATEN, Appellant.
Attorney:Daniel T. Spitler, Pros. Atty., for appellee., John C. Halleck, Bowling Green, for appellant. Mr. Daniel T. Spitler, prosecuting attorney, for appellee., Mr. John C. Halleck, for appellant.
Case Date:April 09, 1969
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio

Page 293

247 N.E.2d 293 (Ohio 1969)

18 Ohio St.2d 13

The STATE of Ohio, Appellee,


STATEN, Appellant.

No. 68-681.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

April 9, 1969

Page 294

Syllabus by the Court

1. One accused of criminal conduct is not responsible for such criminal conduct if, at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect, he does not have the capacity either to know the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law. (Clark v. State, 12 Ohio 483, Farrer v. State, 2 Ohio St. 54, paragraph 15 of the syllabus of State v. Frohner, 150 Ohio St. 53, 80 N.E.2d 868, and paragraph four of the syllabus of State v. Stewart, 176 Ohio St. 156, 198 N.E.2d 439, followed; paragraph eight of the syllabus of Loeffner v. State, 10 Ohio St. 598, disapproved; paragraph four of the syllabus of Blackburn v. State, 23 Ohio St. 146, questioned.)

2. In order to establish the defense of insanity where raised by plea in a criminal proceeding, the accused must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that disease or other defect of his mind had so impaired his reason that, at the time of the criminal act with which he is charged, either he did not know that such act was wrong or he did not have the ability to refrain from doing that act.

Defendant was indicted for first degree murder. After pleading not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, defendant waived his right to a jury trial and requested trial by a three-judge court.

That court unanimously found him guilty of murder in the first degree, did not recommend mercy, and by its judgment sentenced defendant to death. Upon appeal to the Court of Appeals, that judgment was affirmed. [18 Ohio St.2d 14]

The cause is now before this court upon appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Daniel T. Spitler, Pros. Atty., for appellee.

John C. Halleck, Bowling Green, for appellant.

Page 295

TAFT, Chief Justice.

This appeal is based upon the contention that the proper test was not used by the three-judge Common Pleas Court in determining whether defendant should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The argument of defendant's counsel to the trial court represented in large part an attack upon the M'Naghten test for determining the defense of insanity.

After hearing that argument and the argument of the prosecutor, the presiding judge at the court stated:

'At this time, I will state that the court feels that the McNaughten (sic) rule is the law of Ohio.'

There is nothing further in the record to indicate what test the trial court used in determining that defendant should not be acquitted by reason of insanity.

In M'Naghten's case (1843), 4 St.Tr. N.S. 847, 8 Eng.Rep. 718, 722, it was stated that:

'* * * jurors ought to be told in all cases that every man is to be presumed to be be sane, and to possess a sufficient degree of reason to be responsible for his crimes, until the contrary be proved to their satisfaction; and that to establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must by clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong. The mode of putting the latter part of the question to the jury * * * has generally been, whether the accused at the time of doing the act knew the difference between right and wrong * * * in respect to the very act with which he is charged, * * *'

It has been stated that Ohio, along with most jurisdictions, follows the so-called M'Naghten rule as the 'sole test' of criminal responsibility. Annotation, Modern [18 Ohio St.2d 15] Status of the M'Naghten 'right-and-wrong' test of Criminal Responsibility, 45 A.L.R.2d 1447, 1453. The only authority cited for this statement is State v. Ross (Cuyahoga County 1952), 92 Ohio App. 29, 108 N.E.2d 77 (which followed State v. Cumberworth (Cuyahoga County 1942), 69 Ohio App. 239, 43 N.E.2d 510). The dismissal of the Ross case by this court on jurisdictional grounds did not represent an approval of the statements of law in the opinion of the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County in that case. See also State v. Schaffer (Lawrence County 1960), 113 Ohio App. 125, 177 N.E.2d 534, which purports to follow the Ross and Cumberworth cases but does not notice any decisions of this court; 15 Ohio Jurisprudence 2d 277, Section 40. But see Id., 274, Section 37; Kolb, Criminal Defense of Insanity, XLI Ohio Bar 1155 (1968).

In determining what unsoundness of mind may excuse an accused from criminal responsibility for his acts, this court has almost always, both before and after the Ross case, been more liberal to those accused of crime than were the judges who promulgated the so-called M'Naghten rule. Furthermore in giving the reasons for its determinations, generally this court has not even mentioned the M'Naghten rule, although it has always stated the substance of that rule as a part of its own test for determining whether an accused should be relieved of criminal responsibility for an act.

In Clark v. State (1843), 12 Ohio 483 (decided in the same year as M'Naghten's case), at page 494, there appears 'portions of the charge to the jury, by Judge Birchard,' which were 'reduced to writing, and approved by the other (3) judges.' Those portions read in part:

'* * * Purposely implies an act of the will; an intention; a design to do the act. It presupposes the free agency of

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the actor. Deliberation and premeditation require action of the mind. They are operations of the intellectual faculties, and require an exercise of reason, reflection, judgment and decision, and can not happen in any case where the faculties of the mind are deranged, destroyed, or do not exist. The crime of murder in the first degree can, therefore, only be perpetrated by a free agent, capable of...

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