Lay Testimony to Support an Insanity Defense Permitted Only When Accompanied by Expert Testimony; Testimony by Licensed Clinical Social Worker Excluded

White v. Common­ wealth, 616 S.E.2d 49 (Va. Ct. App. 2005)

The challenge faced by the defendant at trial was that the court-appointed evaluator had determined that, although the defendant experienced psychotic symptoms (including hearing voices that he believed to be from God) at the time of the offense, the defendant's cocaine use had initiated and exacerbated these symptoms and thus the defendant was not legally insane at the time of the crime. In response, the defendant sought to introduce the testimony of a licensed clinical social worker who worked at the jail where the defendant was held and who saw the defendant two weeks after the offense and ten times over the next six months. Because the symptoms continued during incarceration when the defendant had no access to illicit drugs, the social worker was prepared to testify that the psychotic symptoms were unrelated to drug use...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 1