Thursday at Kennedy Center, Justice Anthony Kennedy presided over a mock trial of Hamlet for the murder of Polonius. The jury hung on a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Reuters reports:
The defendant Hamlet, played by an actor, sat silently
through the proceedings after invoking his legal right not to
Kennedy devised an explanation for Hamlet being there
despite his apparent death from poisoning in the final act. The
judge cited a short news item that said Hamlet had recovered
consciousness and was in apparent good physical health.
Court TV anchorwoman Catherine Crier and lawyer Abbe Lowell
defended Hamlet. Lowell said Hamlet was branded "mad" 40 times
in the play. Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" speech showed
he was in a "suicidal funk," he said.
Two lawyers from California -- Cristina Arguedas and Miles
Ehrlich -- argued Hamlet's madness was just an act. Academics
in psychiatry offered conflicting testimony over whether he had
displayed symptoms of schizophrenia and manic depression.
Kennedy declined to say how he would vote on Hamlet's
sanity, telling Reuters: "It's a close case."
The illustration is Harold Copping's Hamlet (1897) from Visual Representations of Hamlet