TRIALS: Battle over Patty's Mind

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Turning to the jury one day last week, Judge Oliver J. Carter summed up the essence of Patty Hearst's trial: whether or not the celebrated defendant was telling the truth. "You and you alone," he told the jurors, "have to make this ultimate decision and no psychiatrist, no lawyer or anybody else should invade that province."

From the first, of course, the opposing lawyers have been invading the jury's "province." Last week, as the trial entered a crucial new phase, it was the turn of the psychiatrists to tell the jury what to think. As Patty listened intently, the experts began to describe what they thought was really in her mind on April 15, 1974 when, armed with a sawed-off carbine, she took part in the robbery by the Symbionese Liberation Army of a branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. After the defense and prosecution experts finish their debate over Patty's mind, the case is expected to go to the jury this week.

The week began with a dramatic ruling by Judge Carter on a key question that he had been mulling over for four days: Should the Government be allowed to introduce evidence and question Patty about her activities during the year before her capture?

U.S. Attorney James L. Browning Jr. had argued that Patty's life before her arrest showed she was an accomplice of the S.L.A. and hence had a bearing on whether she had willingly taken part in the robbery. In rebuttal, Defense Attorney F. Lee Bailey claimed not only that the defendant's actions did not bear on the robbery, but that the material might be used to try to connect her with other crimes—a violation, he said, of her basic rights.

With the jury out of the room, Carter ruled in favor of Browning, citing the fact that Patty had voluntarily taken the stand. By testifying about her activities before and after the mysterious year under question, she opened herself up to cross-examination on the entire period.

His face flushing, Bailey leaped to his feet. Claiming that Carter was "clearly in error," he pointed out that Patty had testified about certain events after the robbery, such as her stay with S.L.A. Members William and Emily Harris in a Pennsylvania farmhouse, only because Carter had permitted the prosecution to enter such evidence in the first place.

"Now, Mr. Bailey," said Carter, "nobody made her take the witness stand. She did not have to take the stand."

His voice rising, Bailey said that if Patty were to respond to the prosecution, "she would name people still on the street capable of homicide who would retaliate against her [and her family]." Alluding to threats that had recently been made against Patty and her parents, Bailey hotly told Carter: "I do not think that you can in good conscience, as a human being—that you can require her to sit up here and invite someone to carry out those threats." Bailey then said he would ask the judge to suspend the trial while the defense appealed his ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Mr. Bailey," said Carter, "I deny your motion. You can go to the 9th Circuit if you desire. Have at it." (Bailey is holding his appeal pending the outcome of the trial.)

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