Cox, J., Brodsky, S.L., *Remmel, R.J., *Applegate, K., & *Kopkin, M.R. (2017). The “No-Disorder” Capital Defendant: Defining and Exploring a Novel Construct. Journal of Forensic Psychology: Research and Practice, 17, 179-198.
The United States Supreme Court’s pivotal ruling in Lockett v. Ohio required Courts to be open to consider everything about a defendant’s mental health and background when deliberating the appropriateness of a death penalty verdict. When mental health experts testify in this context, this testimony generally includes evidence concerning the defendant’s psychopathology, serious substance abuse, or likelihood for future dangerousness. However, anecdotal accounts suggest another type of defendant occasionally stands trial for capital murder: the relatively asymptomatic, “no-disorder” individual. This defendant lacks significant psychopathology or severe personality pathology, and is usually psychologically unremarkable. This article explores the concept of the no-disorder capital defendant by defining the construct and differentiating this individual from the more typical capital defendant. We also discuss potential implications regarding mental health testimony on “no-diagnosis” defendants. Finally, directions for future research with this construct are explored.