Thursday, January 06, 2005

Appellate court: State psychiatrist gave false testimony

The Texas 1st Court of Appeals said the judge in Andrea Yates' murder case should have declared a mistrial after it was discovered the state's expert psychiatric witness gave false testimony on the stand. Dr. Park Dietz, put forward as an expert by the Harris County District Attorney's office, claimed Yates patterned her actions after a Law and Order episode that, it turned out, never existed.

TalkLeft has the story and the court opinion. The Houston Chronicle's coverage is here. See a recent Grits post on the insanity defense here. The Senate Jurisprudence committee examined Texas' insanity defense last year as one of its "interim charges," and a discussion of the subject was included in that committee's recent Interim report (pdf).

At a Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing I attended in Houston on Tuesday, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal testified in favor of enhancing penalties for aggravated perjury in response to discoveries of past false convictions. I'll bet he doesn't file such charges against Dr. Dietz.

UPDATE: The South Texas Law Professer and Off the Kuff have more.

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