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State v. Badger

Decided: October 13, 1988.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER J. BADGER, DEFENDANT



Kuechenmeister, J.s.c.

Kuechenmeister

This case presents a novel issue in New Jersey: whether a person who suffers a multiple-personality disorder is mentally competent to stand trial for a crime committed by a personality other than the dominant one.

On May 1, 1986, Christopher Badger was arrested for attempted burglary of a home in Hackensack, New Jersey. Badger was apprehended in a garage near the scene. At the scene, a screen door was found cut open and "pry" marks were found on the cellar door. Further, a pocket knife was found on the ground by the screen door. This incident occurred just one day after Badger had been released from Southern State Correctional Facility, where he had been serving a seven-year sentence on similar charges.

Badger has been institutionalized for the major part of his life. Since the age of 17, Badger has been diagnosed as suffering from multiple-personality disorder. Badger describes his disease in terms of "lost time." That is, when one of Badger's alternate personalities*fn1 takes control, Badger has no recollection of what has transpired. He is only aware that he has "lost time." Yet, when one of the alternate personalities is in control, that "person" can remember, quite clearly, what transpired during the time that "person" was in control.

On the night of the alleged attempted burglary, "Philip" was in control of Badger. Badger's dominant personality, "Christopher," has no recollection of any of the events of that evening. "Philip" remembers and can relate what occurred on that evening. "Christopher" analogizes his memory of "Philip's" actions to having amnesia. Further, "Christopher" cannot control the actions of "Philip" nor can he control the "switching" of his personalities.

Badger has been incarcerated since his arrest for the crime charged. In January 1987, he was admitted to the forensic unit of the Bergen Pines Hospital for attempting to hang himself while in jail. At Bergen Pines, Dr. Peter Martindale evaluated Badger over a period of five months. He found that Badger genuinely suffered from a multiple-personality disorder which was not brought on as an attempt to escape punishment for his crimes. Martindale found Badger to have two distinct, competent personalities -- one of "Christopher" and the other "Philip" -- each of whom, Martindale believed, knew right from wrong.

On August 10, 1987, Badger was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and was committed to Greystone Psychiatric Hospital. On November 4, 1987, Badger was again evaluated by doctors at Greystone who found him to be organized, coherent and non-delusional although "Christopher," himself, still expressed some concern over "losing time." Thereafter, Badger was found mentally competent, despite his multiple-personality disorder, to stand trial for the alleged attempted burglary.

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:4-5, this court then ordered Badger to be re-evaluated by Dr. Steven S. Simring. The doctor was asked to make specific findings regarding Badger's mental competency to stand trial as prescribed by N.J.S.A. 2C:4-4b, which provides that:

b. A person shall be considered mentally competent to stand trial on criminal charges if the proofs shall establish:

(1) That the defendant has the mental capacity to appreciate his presence in relation to time, place and things; and

(2) That his elementary mental processes are such that ...


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