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UPDATE ~ Judge questions England guilty plea after psychologist testimony

[JURIST] Following up on a earlier report in JURIST's Paper Chase, Judge Col. James Pohl asked Pfc. Lynndie England late Tuesday whether she wanted to consider withdrawing her guilty plea [JURIST report] after her childhood psychologist testified to her reduced mental capabilities [AP report]. Thomas Denne, England's psychologist since kindergarten, testified that she had been oxygen-deprived at birth, resulting in learning disabilties and confusion which caused her to routinely follow the commands of authority figures without question. After dismissing the newly-selected jury [JURIST report], the judge noted that the witness indicated that England could not tell right from wrong, which could throw her guilty plea into doubt. The judge only accepted England's plea after repeatedly questioning her as to whether she knew her actions were wrong at the time. England did not withdraw her plea. Reuters has more.

11:53 AM ET - Judge Col. James Pohl stopped proceedings in the England trial Wednesday to once again question the validity of Pfc. England's guilty plea. Pvt. Charles Graner, the alleged father of England's child who was himself convicted [JURIST report] in connection with the Abu Ghraib scandal, testified today that England believed her actions were part of standard prison procedure and that she specifically followed his orders to hold the leash that was around the one Iraqi detainee. Judge Pohl informed England that the trial evidence has demonstrated that she may not be guilty. If necessary, Pohl could still reject England's guilty plea and postpone her trial to a later date. Reuters has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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