Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Magic in the Courtroom

In an article appearing in the December 16, 2002 edition of the Chicago Tribune about the conviction of a mentally ill man accused of murder, Ken Armstrong observes that when there is a doubt about the defendant's fitness to stand trial, the judge may order a fitness hearing. However, in order for the judge's ruling to avoid the possibility of being overturned, he or she must specifically invoke the phrase 'bona fide doubt'. He goes on to write, "They're like magic words. They must be uttered."

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