With Casey Anthony set to be released from jail this weekend, the district attorney in Orlando has confirmed my prediction that Cindy Anthony will not be prosecuted for perjury (Mrs. Anthony apparently lied about doing incriminating searches on the Anthonys’ home computer when she was actually at work).
Meanwhile, it’s great to see viewers and readers channeling their anger about the outcome of the Anthony case in productive ways, like supporting Caylee’s Law (a measure criminalizing a parent’s failure to report his/her child missing or deceased in a timely manner). For our part, I’d like to see us in the media get off of the Anthony case and back to the business of spotlighting other cases that are worthy of public attention. So, in other Lawpsyc news…
The sexual assault case against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is looking weaker and weaker by the day as his accuser, a New York hotel maid, is looking less and less credible. Something sexual may very well have happened between the two, but a lack of consent on her part may be virtually impossible to prove. Could he have sexually assaulted her? Sure. But could she also have learned of his reputation for being sexually aggressive and be attempting to exploit that for money? That, too, is seeming more and more possible.
A federal appeals court has ruled that Jared Loughner, the individual charged with shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others in Arizona back in January, can refuse psychotropic medication while federal prison doctors attempt to cure his alleged incompetency to stand trial for the shootings. There’s U.S. Supreme Court precedent, however, for allowing forced medication of defendants for the purpose of restoring competency to stand trial, under circumstances that seem to apply in Loughner’s case, so the appeals court’s ruling shouldn’t be the final word on the issue.
Two other shooting sprees to tell you about: The first happened in Michigan last Thursday. The shooter killed two former girlfriends, his own daughter, and four other people before killing himself. In addition to the obvious tragedy, as I always predict in these cases, we learned within hours of these murders that the shooter had a violent history spanning two decades. Like so many other violent offenders, he clearly should never have been loose on the streets last Thursday, and everyone involved, including him, would’ve been better off if we’d actually been tougher on him earlier in his criminal career. The second shooting spree making national headlines happened in Louisiana on Tuesday. A man reportedly came home from work to find his wife and her three children shot to death, their bodies piled on top of one another. At this point it looks like financial stressors exacerbated psychosis in the wife culminating in her commission of murder-suicide. I’ve written about this kind of family murder-suicide here before, in which a parent seems to have believed that he/she was taking his/her children off to a better place.
And finally, it’s been a while since I told you about Lawpsyc-related research, so here’s catching up with three research-based stories:
1) A new study suggests that mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy are more likely to have autistic children. Could antidepressants cause autism? Maybe. But as you know if you’re a regular reader, I think the “autism spectrum” of disorders has been stretched so wide that many kids who have nothing really wrong with them are being labeled “autistic.” So, I think it’s also possible that mothers who’ve turned to clinicians to address mental discomfort in themselves may be hyper-vigilant to sub-clinical mental issues in their children and may then succeed in securing dubious diagnoses for the kids from crowd-pleasing clinicians.
2) After reviewing years of research, the DEA has concluded that there is no such thing as medically-necessary marijuana. If you’re a regular reader, you know that this confirms what I’ve said here before — that whatever pain-relieving properties people think exist in cannabis can be found in synthetic compounds (or at the very least extracted and concentrated from the cannabis) without the intoxicating “high” factor. In other words, nobody needs to smoke marijuana for a medical reason.
3) Researchers at Harvard are confirming another opinion that I’ve expressed repeatedly over the years — that parents of morbidly obese minor children are committing child abuse, putting the children’s long-term physical health at risk by not regulating their food intake. The Harvard researchers advocate temporary removal of morbidly obese children from the homes of parents who are unwilling or unable to help the children achieve and maintain reasonable weights. Right on, and nice to see the pediatric “establishment” arriving at what was getting to be a lonely party!