People v. Serravo case brief summary
823 P.2d 128 (1992)
Petitioner state sought review of a
decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, which held that respondent
accused was insane under the legal test for insanity.
CASE FACTS The accused was charged with crimes of
attempt to commit first degree murder after deliberation after the
accused stabbed his wife. The accused entered a plea of not guilty by
reason of insanity. The issue of legal insanity was tried to a jury,
which returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
court granted certiorari to review the decision of the court of
appeals in order to determine the meaning of the phrase "incapable
of distinguishing right from wrong" in the state's statutory
definition of insanity codified at 8A Colo. Rev. Stat. §
The court held that "incapable of
distinguishing right from wrong" refereed to a cognitive
inability to distinguish right from wrong under existing societal
standards of morality rather than under a purely subjective and
personal standard of morality.
In addition, rather than
characterizing the deific-decree delusion as an exception to the
right-wrong test for legal insanity, the court held that a defendant
could be judged legally insane where the defendant's cognitive
ability to distinguish right from wrong with respect to an act
charged as a crime had been destroyed as a result of a psychotic
The judgment of the court of appeals was approved, in part, and
disapproved, in part. Recommended Supplements for Criminal Law
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