Why would a beloved small-town doctor with no history of violence suddenly strangle his father to death? The Other Dr. Gilmer is a gripping account of the search for an answer to this question. It turns out the doctor has a rare neurological disorder that likely caused the killing. If only the diagnosis had come before trial, the author believes, the doctor would not have been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. That belief is appealing, but naïve. Jails and prisons are full of people with mental illness. Misdiagnosis is not the reason. A close examination of the doctor’s case reveals several doctrinal and structural forces that effectively criminalize mental illness. The doctor’s diagnosis is the key to the medical mystery, but it would not have been a key to the jailhouse door. For many individuals with mental illness, avoiding the criminal legal system entirely is the only way to avoid injustice.
Cardozo Law Review de·novo
Vars, Fredrick E., "The Criminal Legal System Doesn’t Care About Your Mental Illness" (2022). Cardozo Law Review de•novo. 91.