By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Differences can also arise as a result of external pressures or personal bias. In the case of Hoff, that is exactly what the defense wanted to establish. Out of the jury's presence, attorney John Grele described for the judge Hoff's handling of two previous cases involving mentally ill prisoners at San Quentin. In one instance, he said, a prisoner who had been diagnosed by other psychiatric staff as a paranoid schizophrenic became unruly in his cell and was pepper-sprayed by the guards. The prisoner was then taken to the infirmary, but Hoff denied him admittance as a psychiatric patient, instead asserting that he was a "management case." In another instance, prison guards reported to Hoff that an inmate was suicidal. After a five-minute phone call with the prisoner, Hoff told him she would see him the following day. Shortly after that conversation, the inmate jumped from the fourth floor tier of the prison, sustaining serious injuries. These two examples, Grele said, show that Hoff "has an anti-inmate bias at San Quentin, and an inability to distinguish when someone is presenting a mental illness to her and when someone is not."
Marin County Deputy District Attorney Ed Berberian argued against allowing the jury to hear about these cases, saying they were "unsubstantiated" and a "smear campaign." The judge sided with Berberian, saying, "I don't think that individual incidents can show a pattern in practice."
Hoping to clear things up, the judge presiding over the case appointed two independent psychiatrists to examine Kelly. Their conclusions? One found him competent for execution, the other not.
Ultimately, the decision about whether Horace Kelly is competent to be put to death will not rest with alienists or psychiatrists, but with a jury of nine women and three men with little or no training in the workings of the brain. Juries, Markman writes in his book, are "not often sophisticated enough to understand the expert testimony" of psychiatrists. In this case, the district attorney saw to it that any potential juror with a background in psychiatry was quickly removed from the jury pool, as were most jurors with an education beyond a high school diploma. Three of those who made it onto the panel did so after they explicitly told the court that they do not believe that insane people should be spared execution, despite a Supreme Court ruling that says they must.
And so, over the past several weeks, the jurors have been deluged with the details of schizophrenia and psychosis. It has not, perhaps, been a particularly welcome lesson. During especially involved explanations, two of the jurors tend to nod off. Another seems to doodle endlessly in a notebook, while still another spends a great deal of time staring at the ceiling.
Last week, a juror told the judge of overhearing other jurors speaking disparagingly about one of the psychiatrists hired by the defense. During more than an hour spent by the judge questioning each member of the panel individually, one juror told him that another juror had called the psychiatrist "Ms. Batting Her Eyelashes." Another juror remarked that the same psychiatrist seemed like she had had acting lessons; another said a juror had made "catty" comments; yet another overheard a juror likening the psychiatrist to Dr. Joyce Brothers in a "flippant" way. Richard Mazer, the lead attorney defending Kelly, called for a mistrial, but the judge simply admonished the jurors not to speak about the case until it is time to deliberate.