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Should the 'Zoloft defense' be permissible?

Will the "Zoloft defense" work?
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Will the "Zoloft defense" work?

In 2010, former Westminster police officer Anthony Nicholas Orban allegedly abducted a 25-year-old waitress at gunpoint, forced her to drive to a storage facility and then raped her.

In 2010, former Westminster police officer Anthony Nicholas Orban allegedly abducted a 25-year-old waitress at gunpoint, forced her to drive to a storage facility and then raped her. The trial, which is currently being held in San Bernardino County, has completed the prosecution phase and is preparing for Orban’s defense on Monday.

And the defense that James Blatt, Orban’s lawyer, has planned is by no means a conventional one. On Thursday, a San Bernardino County judge ruled that the defense team can point to evidence that Orban, who was taking the antidepressant Zoloft at the time, was so overwhelmed by the drug that he was not mentally cognizant while the attack was happening.

This “Zoloft defense” could essentially free Orban of all guilt if the jury finds the evidence compelling. Blatt will begin presenting evidence on Monday.

Should this legal tactic be permissible? What separates this defense strategy from that of insanity? Or what about the “Twinkie defense”? How successful are strategies like these? How will the trial proceed from here?

GUESTS
Heidi Rummel, Clinical Law Professor, USC Gould School of Law

Peter Kramer, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Brown University. Also the author of the international bestseller “Listening to Prozac.”

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