Best Court Ruling (2005)

Reversal of Andrea Yates's conviction

Andrea Yates is obviously a disturbed woman, and no one can know what demons drew her to (at this point, allegedly) drown her five kids in a bathtub. But in their zeal to make a case, Harris County prosecutors threw away caution. They brought in a California psychiatrist expert named Park Dietz who said he was a consultant for the TV show Law & Order. Dietz ominously testified that one L&O episode had dealt with a woman who drowned her children and was found innocent by reason of insanity. That episode, he said -- and you can almost hear the Matlock-like grumbles among the audience as he broke the news -- aired shortly before Yates killed her kids! And prosecutors had made clear already that Yates was a dedicated L&O fan! Dramatic stuff, if true. Which, unfortunately, it wasn't. No such L&O episode ever existed. Dietz said it was "an honest mistake," but the First Court of Appeals tossed out the conviction in January. Looks like Harris County will need to get a slightly less dramatic conviction.


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