View Full Version : [Canada] ADHD used in sentencing submissions in murder trial.


Erstwhile
10-29-08, 11:16 AM
From here (http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/story.html?id=f65b2dfc-3784-4c0d-9ec5-6c31ff03761d).


REGINA [Saskatchewan, Canada] -- A Regina Court of Queen's Bench judge will not hear testimony after all from the parents of a teen awaiting sentencing for second-degree murder.

Defence lawyer Brendan Pyle initially had planned to call the teen's parents and considered calling the teen himself as part of the sentencing hearing to determine whether the now-18-year-old will serve an adult or a youth sentence. The youth cannot be identified since he was 16 at the time of the Boxing Day, 2006, stabbing death of 28-year-old Larry Moser, who died after coming to the aid of a store clerk who was having trouble with some rowdy teens.

"After much consideration this weekend, (the teen's parents) decided the best role for them would be to be part of the ongoing rehabilitation for (the teen) no matter what the outcome and that's where they'll express their thoughts and supports," Pyle said outside of court. "And between everyone at Dojack (Youth Centre) -- the psychiatrist and psychologist -- (the parents) wouldn't have much to add except some more personal stories, which I think they felt would be best left with whoever's treating (the teen) in whatever capacity."
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Court previously heard the teen has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder, and Regina psychiatrist Dr. S. Brent Harold -- the sole defence witness -- provided more detail about the disorders on Monday.

Harold, who is currently treating the teen, spoke about the disorders with which the teen has been diagnosed, adding that he first met the youth about four years ago and has been working with him more steadily for about 20 months now.

Harold said the teen's issues with anger management are a part of ADHD and conduct disorder. Among other symptoms of ADHD are inability to concentrate, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Conduct disorder includes behaviors like disobeying authority, rules, laws and social mores and having little concern for others' rights. Harold said the rarely-diagnosed conduct disorder can be associated with activities like stealing, robbery and assault, among other crimes. Harold also pointed out that having these diagnoses does not mean a person should not be considered responsible for their behaviour or that they don't know the difference between right and wrong.

Court previously heard the teen is not taking medication to treat either of the disorders.

Under cross-examination by co-Crown prosecutor Jeff Kalmakoff, Harold said those with ADHD can take longer to perform certain tasks since they have a harder time settling down to work. Kalmakoff asked if that might pertain to institutional programming.

"It may," Harold said. "It would depend how motivated they are."

He also agreed with Kalmakoff that some people with conduct disorder who have used violence successfully in the past may continue to see violence as a way to get what they want, and that it can be difficult to change if the age of onset is relatively young. He added if certain behaviors and attitudes found in those with conduct disorder -- such as aggression, lack of empathy and remorse -- continue into adulthood, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder (essentially the 'adult' version of conduct disorder) is likely.

Court previously heard the teen -- who in age is now an adult -- has had violent episodes while on remand. Court also heard he has shown little remorse about Moser's death, placing blame on the victim for interfering with the teen's friends.

Outside of court, Pyle said the court needs to keep in mind that his client was 16 at the time of the crime, something that along with his diagnoses shows the youth "has always had a diminished moral capacity, and as tragic and as terrible as his actions were that led to the death of Mr. Moser, when we turn to the law, I think it's quite clear that (the teen) has a diminished capacity for morality, thought and action and that needs to be remembered when sentencing is passed."

Justice Ron Barclay will now hear closing arguments from Crown and defence lawyers.

I'm not going to comment on this story as I know defence counsel personally, but it was weird to see ADHD used in sentencing submissions.

meadd823
10-30-08, 03:33 AM
I would personally say the conduct disorder has more of a baring on the violent actions than the ADD would.

chartreuse
10-30-08, 02:54 PM
I would personally say the conduct disorder has more of a baring on the violent actions than the ADD would.

Yes, and since, as they state, conduct disorder is simply the term given to antisocial personality disorder in children, my personal view is that this kid is too dangerous to ever walk the streets again.

They'll give him a bunch of therapy while he's incarcerated, he'll figure out how to convince them that he's "cured," he'll go move in with Mum and Dad, and in a week or three Fluffy will go missing, and then they'll discover a whole pile of mutilated animal corpses in the woods behind the house, and then one day Mum and Dad will be discovered shot in their sleep.

No pill in the world and no amount of psychotherapy in the world can create empathy in someone incapable of feeling it.

I do feel bad for people like this - they really drew the short stick - but I'm pretty puzzled at this point why we even pretend anything can be done.

gogogo
10-30-08, 11:13 PM
I would personally say the conduct disorder has more of a baring on the violent actions than the ADD would.

Why on earth would a defence lawyer, someone supposedly trying to reduce the teen's sentence, lead evidence of that nature?

Driver
10-30-08, 11:24 PM
Why on earth would a defence lawyer, someone supposedly trying to reduce the teen's sentence, lead evidence of that nature?

To avoid a custodial sentence and hopefully end up in mental health care facility.

Erstwhile
10-31-08, 11:40 AM
To avoid a custodial sentence and hopefully end up in mental health care facility.


That, but also just to, essentially, portray one's client as a human being with a story to tell, rather than Generic Criminal #3053. Essentially get the judge to see the client as a person.

The mental health facility angle is an option where the condition is such that you're not criminally responsible, but in this case the expert witness testified that neither ADHD nor conduct disorder affected the killer to this extent. So as defence counsel you're left with trying to show the judge some context, in hopes that it'll convince them not to throw the book at your client. As with so many things in life you do the best you can with what you've got, y'know?

(So much for not commenting on the article. :p )

chartreuse
10-31-08, 12:38 PM
Why on earth would a defence lawyer, someone supposedly trying to reduce the teen's sentence, lead evidence of that nature?

That's a good question. I think the answers as to why were pretty much on target, but at the same time you have to wonder if presenting his client as having conduct disorder might actually lead the judge to impose a longer sentence, either at a mental institution or a traditional prison, simply because he recognizes the need to keep these people away from the public.

To address the issue of ADHD being brought up, I actually find that a little worrisome, in that I would hate to see ADHD somehow become associated in the public's mind with people who commit crimes. Granted, this may have been a one-time thing, but ADHD/ADD is prevalent enough that I'm sure a fair number of people going through the system suffer from it, and if it starts being brought up frequently, people might very well get the wrong impression.

gogogo
11-01-08, 04:43 PM
you have to wonder if presenting his client as having conduct disorder might actually lead the judge to impose a longer sentence

Exactly.