We often hear of sad stories where one of our clients has decided to kidnap an innocent child, and many people simply do not understand how such a feat can occur. How can someone in their right mind make the necessary actions to hurt another person, let alone a child? These are questions that we are often faced with, and although our Handy lawyers are no psychologists on paper, we have a thing or two to say about getting into the minds of a criminal.

Case Study: Mitchell, The Anti-Christ

First of all, people who do awful things are often sick with mental illnesses. That by no means lessens the gravity of what they have done. The kind of individual who kidnaps children is sadistic and has empathy issues, often traits that are associated with a psychopath. Let’s consider one particular offender who was deemed able to stand in court by the attorney he was working with: Brian David Mitchell was in fact a sane man with psychopathic tendencies that could stand forth in court. Mitchell abducted Elizabeth Smart, then 14-year-old girl, in the middle of the night by taking a knife to her throat even while her sister slept in the bed beside her. He then brought her to an encampment where he pronounced her his wife and proceeded to violently rape her, forced her to watch pornographic imagery, extorted her into drinking alcohol and watching his fornication with his wife. Mitchell hid behind his proclamation for the mormon religion, often lashing out in bouts of hymns during the court proceedings. Elizabeth Smart was held captive for the duration of nine long months, when she was thankfully retrieved while on a neighbourhood walk with Mitchell and his wife.

This disgusting individual was observed by an attorney for hours upon hours, where Mitchell for the most part dedicated his time to keeping his eyes shut and singing loud hymns in order to detract from answering any questions. In a strangely handy way, he maintained stubbornness throughout most of the interview until the lawyer had him view a long-hauled interview between an FBI agent and Smart.  For about five to six hours, Mitchell kept his eyes shut the entire time until Smart was shown on a television speaking to the police. This is where the attorney could see him crack, his lust overriding his love for religion. He leered closely to the television screen, his eyelashes almost touching the rays. It was a creepy feeling; an imagery of violation.

From what the attorney gathered, Mitchell was deemed adept to standing in trial as he was fully capable of interacting with his lawyer, he could understand exactly what he was being charged against, and had the ability to choose to manage his behaviour. Instead of being distinguished as an insane person, the term that Handy believes best relates to his case is holding a characteristic of anti-personality disorder, along with the evident pedophilia, alcoholism and psychopathy.

Methods Taken To Diagnose A Client

While diagnosing a client as mentally ill can help a case, the Mitchell case was different since the attorney did his due diligence beforehand, grasping a deeper knowledge of the background that constituted his client. By interviewing over 200 sources and 58 witnesses, one of them being Elizabeth Smart, the attorney was able to puzzle together new points of evidence to help in his success of the case. It turns out that Mitchell was well knowledgeable of the plea he had to swear in on, and the facts that led up to his judgment day. Everyone followed the recounts of a psychologist who interviewed Mitchell in 2004, in which she stated his was not fit for court. However, upon a further observation of the psychologists’ notes, it was found that over 70% of the discussion that occurred with Mitchell demonstrated hints of rationale. The morale of the story is to take a deeper look into the diagnosis of a client, for one’s potential illness is not always a safe-guard excuse for a court excusal. That is why our Handy lawyers spend months precisely doing their due diligence through redundant witness interviews, and by sifting through hundreds of pages of client reports. You can do no evil by doing your homework.

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