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July 14, 2009

Crazy or Not – You be the Judge

Was Mary Todd Lincoln mentally ill? Should she have been institutionalized? The 2009 Annual Meeting looks at the insanity trial of Mary Todd Lincoln.  The trial features experts and consultants who will help the audience look at both sides of the case.

Controversy remains around the 1875 proceedings. Lincoln was involuntarily committed to a sanitarium by her son during the latter part of her life, but a year later she was released after her intense lobbying created public outcry for her situation.

“We are asking the audience to decide whether to support the petitioner, Mrs. Lincoln’s oldest son Robert or the defendant, Mrs. Lincoln,” says David Weinberg, who has researched, planned and presented the ABA historical trials.  “We will have consultants, with Shane Khoshbin and Carlin Phillips, supporting the teams.  We will also have Nancy Schleifer, author of A Warrant for Mrs. Lincoln, a novel about the insanity trial for the former first lady, and Darlene Shelton, who will provide psychological background.

Judge George Leighton will preside over the proceedings.

Once the audience has decided which side to support, members will have an hour to develop their case.  At the end of the trial, the audience will also serve as the jury, voting to determine whether or not Mrs. Lincoln should be sent to an asylum for the insane.

“The Insanity Trial of Mary Todd Lincoln,” a CLE course, takes place Friday, July 31, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.