Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis


The topic of my thesis is the insanity defense. The insanity defense is a tactic that is rarely used and rarely successful. Generally states fall into three categories: Those who use the M'Naghten rule of law, those who use the American Law Institute (ALI) Model Penal Code, and those who have abolished the use of the insanity defense. This research compares states from each category to investigate whether or not the type of rule used affects the outcome. In order to determine whether these categories matter, the paper compares similar appellate felony case outcomes in New Jersey and North Carolina, Michigan and Oregon, and Utah and Nevada. The states were chosen based on how representative they were of all of the states in their respective categories. The expectation was that different insanity defense laws will have a marginal impact on the outcome. The expectation was found to be true, even with the limited availability of cases, after analyzing each state’s statue and the cases, the conclusion was that the rule of law used to evaluate the insanity of defendants or lack of a law has little or no affect on the outcome each insanity defense cases.

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