5 Cornell J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 19 (1995-1996)
So Crazy He Thinks He Is Sane: The Colin Ferguson Trial and the Competency Standard

handle is hein.journals/cjlpp5 and id is 23 raw text is: SO CRAZY HE THINKS HE IS SANE:
THE COLIN FERGUSON TRIAL
AND THE COMPETENCY STANDARD
Ronald L. Kubyt and William M. Kunstlertt
The bizarre trial of Colin Ferguson was an obscene spectacle, a cross
between bear-baiting and some weird skit in which inmates take over a mental
institution and perform a play, the theme of which is a trial. In early Decem-
ber of 1994, we spent our final efforts as Mr. Ferguson's trial counsel in an
unsuccessful attempt to convince Judge Donald E. Belfi that Mr. Ferguson
was not mentally competent to stand trial-that his mental illness was so
severe that he could not assist in his own defense in any meaningful way.
A defense psychiatrist diagnosed Mr. Ferguson as suffering from
delusional disorder, persecutory subtype, a classic psychosis well-recognized
by the Bible of psychiatric disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual
(DSM). Persons so afflicted suffer from firm, fixed, immovable and false
beliefs, colored by an overwhelming concern that people are plotting against
them. Although the prosecution's own psychiatrist agreed that Mr. Ferguson
could be delusional, he was not sure and wanted to do more tests (which Mr.
Ferguson would not permit). In any event, opined the prosecution's psychia-
trist, Mr. Ferguson is very, very paranoid.
Not that one needed a medical degree to ascertain Mr. Ferguson's
extreme mental illness; his past actions, including the Long Island Railroad
massacre itself, seemed ample proof of that. During the period of time we
spent with Mr. Ferguson and his other attorneys, we witnessed his irrational
belief that there existed multiple conspiracies against him. For example,
during his incarceration at the Nassau County Jail, Mr. Ferguson accused
many of the officials of various crimes against him, varying from stealing his
t Ronald Kuby received his B.G.S. from the University of Kansas in 1979. He received his
J.D. from Cornell Law School in 1983 where he graduated magna cum laude. After
completing law school, Mr. Kuby began working for the law firm Kuby and Kunstler, a small
civil rights firm, where he presently works. Mr. Kuby has represented many notable individuals
including Sheik Omar Abdul Rahmen.
tt William Kunstler died on September 4, 1995. This is one of the last articles he wrote and
to his dying day he felt that the Ferguson case made a mockery of the criminal justice system.

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