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Opening Arguments

Lennon's Law

A three-judege panel has ordered the death-sentence hearing tossed out and  reheard in the case of Christopher M. Stevens, whose murder of 10-year-old Zachary Snider led to Zachary's Law and creation of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry in 1994. The reason borders on the bizarre:

Judges Diane Wood and Kenneth Ripple ruled Stevens' attorneys owed their client a constitutional duty to use a "mainstream" psychologist in their defense against the death penalty instead of the "quack" they presented.

The judges said Dr. Lawrence Lennon did several bizarre things during Stevens' trial, including revealing to the judge and jury that Stevens had engaged in a sex act with the boy's corpse before dumping it off a bridge -- a detail the doctor had never revealed to the defense before he said it on the stand.

When Stevens' lawyers questioned Lennon about his actions, the doctor said he had intended to "turn this all around" on the prosecution, similar to Marlene Dietrich's character in the film, "Witness for the Prosecution," Wood wrote.

Ripple went one step further, saying in a nonbinding minority opinion that the entire case against Stevens should be retried because of his lawyers' use of Lennon in the case.

Maybe the General Assembly should consider new legislation -- let's call it Lennon's Law -- specifying slow torture for psychologists who yearn to be movie stars.