Movie Nuts Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Competent to Stand Trial

The 1987 film Nuts is a film portrayal of a true story about a woman from a well-to-do family who becomes a high priced hooker and is charged with first degree manslaughter when she kills a violent customer (aka a "John"). Ostensibly in an effort to protect their daughter (and themselves) from the public embarrassment of a trial, the woman's parents encourage therapeutic institutional intervention. In the hearing to determine the woman's ability to stand trial, the woman, stunningly played by Barbara Streisand, insists that she is sane and fights -- quite literally -- for her right to stand trial. A reluctant court appointed attorney -- played by Richard Dreyfus -- eventually comes to believe that his client is sane and able to contribute to her own defense -- he is able to work past her pugnacious exterior and comes to understand and support her in his beliefs and in his trenchant legal defense. Two psychiatrists have declared the woman incompetent, and she refuses to submit to any additional psychiatric testing (which would constitute a third chance at strengthening her position that she is perfectly able to stand trial). During the hearing, the defendant's attorney conducts such penetrating cross-examinations that the hearing judge aligns his opinion of the testifying psychiatrists with the woman whose competency is being examined. This brief paper will discuss several relevant legal definitions, legal standards, states of mind, and time frames as presented in the film, and through a review of the literature.

Relevant Legal Definitions

Competency to stand trial. The test for competency goes beyond a defendant being oriented to time and place and having some recollection of events (Roesch, et al., 2004: 1). The test for competency is whether the defendant is, at present, sufficiently able to consult with an attorney in a manner that demonstrates a reasonable level of understanding and has a factual and rational understanding of the charges brought against him (Roesch, et al., 2004: 1).

One school of thought is that the psycholegal abilities of a defendant must be considered in context. Forensic psychologists with this perspective argue that whether a defendant shows evidence of severe disturbance should be considered a threshold issue. The more important concern in a contextual determination is whether the severe disturbance in this particular defendant who is facing specific charges based on existing evidence -- and anticipating the substantial effort and relationship characteristics of the attorney for the case -- creates a situation in which the defendant is unable to rationally assist his attorney or is unable to comprehend the nature of the proceedings and the likely outcome of those proceedings (Roesch, 2004:79)

The Supreme Court, however, does not uphold a contextual determination of competency to stand trial, instead arguing that there must be only one standard of competency regardless of the psycholegal skills required of a defendant in any given trial. A defendant who is found incompetent to stand trial is held in a mental institution until such time as they may be found competent, the test of which happens at regular intervals determined by statute until the decision is made that the person's condition is highly unlikely to change.

Insanity. The standard for a plea of cognitive insanity is that the defendant must not have known the nature or quality of the act because of mental impairment or defect at the time that act was committed. Or, if the defendant did know the act was wrong even if he or she understood the nature and quality of the act. Volitional insanity (irresistible impulse) is another form of insanity said to occur when a defendant is able to distinguish right from wrong, but became incapable of controlling his or her actions due to mental disease or defect. Generally, volitional insanity is considered to be transitory in nature.

Incapacity. Incapacity is defined as the absence of legal ability, competence, or qualifications. The inherent unreliability of the testimony given by psychiatrists and psychologists -- which can result in the commitment of individuals for long periods past a prison term, for instance, requires a standard of proof that goes beyond the current standard of clear and convincing evidence. That this situation is a problem was borne out in the film by the faulty psychiatric reports filed about the defendant. Any standard used to establish incapacity should "ensure that only the truly dangerous are…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Movie Nuts" (2011, September 30) Retrieved December 8, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/movie-nuts-117064

"Movie Nuts" 30 September 2011. Web.8 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/movie-nuts-117064>

"Movie Nuts", 30 September 2011, Accessed.8 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/movie-nuts-117064

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Movie Industry What Competitive Forces

    What is the movie houses response goal? The movies houses would like to take advantage of the fact that YouTube and other social outlets have a massive following. If the movie houses can generate enough excitement by running ads along with trailers and clips of the movies then they turn a negative into a positive. Secondly, the movie houses would like to generate additional revenues from online distribution, but so

  • Charlie Chaplin s Classic Movies Was

    Chaplin's role in the movie is a cog on the assembly line where he fixes nuts to moving machinery parts. Indeed, one of the funniest moments is the sheer panic when his work is out of sequence and he attempts to hide the nuts that he has to assemble but cannot keep up with the speed of the factory process. Chaplin is also making another important, perhaps a prescient point. This

  • Teddy Bear Film Analysis Pitch

    One of the eyes is cracked. The last room Karen checks is the kitchen. She is still holding and petting the teddy bear when she stops in front of the sink. She stares at the spot on the counter where the teddy bear had landed that time that Mark threw it across the room. The camera is behind Karen but as she turns around, it focuses on the back of

  • Girl Interrupted Film Analysis Girl

    Thus, even Valerie singles out the protagonist as special from her insane peers. Susanna's conflicts are seen as more, rather than less compelling than the other women's struggles because Susanna is 'really' sane, and able to take the advice of good people like Valerie. In contrast, the problems of people such as Daisy, who has a flip hairdo and an enmeshed relationship with her sexually abusive father, are used more

  • Episode Description of the Episode the Movie

    Episode Description of the Episode The movie chosen is the Pirates of the Caribbean-4. The writer is aware that it is a very poor choice while there are other movies that would have suited better. But on analyzing the entire movie from the communication point-of-view, one can discern a stream of verbal and non-verbal communication between the characters that is difficult to separate from the mindless and unbelievable actions that go

  • Robert Evans A Life on

    Formerly married to actresses Sharon Hugueny, Camilla Sparv, MacGraw and TV sports commentator Phyllis George, Evans has one son (by MacGraw), actor Josh Evans." Ali MacGraw, according to Evans, was driven way with his obsession with the Godfather which "ruined my whole life, personally" he said -- but ultimately, was all worth it in the end. For all of his faults and foibles, Evans says, he regrets nothing. Works Cited Higgins, Bill. "An

  • Kill a Mockingbird the 1962

    By allowing his children to address him by hist first name, Atticus is dismantling one of the many traditions that serve to reinforce and perpetuate traditions that ultimately only serve to delegitimize the experience and perspective of certain people. This forces the viewer to take Scout's recollections and narration more seriously, because although they are the memories of a relatively young child, the viewer cannot help but treat them


Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved