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Psych 280
Psychology and the Legal System
Final Paper: Andrea Yates Case Analysis
In June 2001 in the state of Texas, Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family bathtub. Chapter 8 in your
text provides a brief synopsis of the case (page 196). Yates was initially found guilty of murdering her children and
sentenced to life in prison. Three years later, her conviction was overturned and a mistrial declared by the court.
Upon retrial Andrea Yates was found to be NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY and is now confined in a
Texas state forensic psychiatric hospital.
Your final assignment is to do a careful case analysis of the events that unfolded in the Andrea Yates case starting
with her arrest and following through to her current confinement in a Texas psychiatric hospital. Your goal will be
to identify the interfaces between the field of psychology and the legal system covered in this course as illustrated
in the Andrea Yates case. Your research should include the news reports documenting the events in her case, legal
reports or documents, and academic/scientific articles dealing with the psychological aspects of the Andrea Yates
case. It is important that your case analysis focus on the psychological issues or aspects of her case and not just be a
reporting of the legal events that occurred.
The following questions can serve as a guide for the types of issues that should be addressed in your paper, but you
should not simply limit yourself to these questions:
How do the theories of the cause of violent crime relate to the Andrea Yates case? What do you think the cause of or
motivation for her crime was?
What roles did psychologists play between arrest and trial in Yate’s situation?
What types of forensic evaluations were conducted on Andrea Yates?
How did Andrea Yates plead in her trials and what was her lawyer’s rationale for her defense?
What concerns were raised in the selection of the jury for Andrea Yate’s original trial? What about the second one?
What expert psychological witnesses testified in her trials?
What was the basis for her life sentence in the original trial?
What psychological consideration went into the overturning of her original trial and the declaration of a mistrial?
What was different in her second trial that led to a NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY verdict?
What is happening to Andrea Yates now?
Do you feel that justice was served in the Andrea Yates case?
What are your key learning’s about psychology and the law as a result of doing your case analysis?
Your paper should be written in APA format and include a reference list of at least five additional sources other than
your textbook. Your paper should be approximately 5-6 double spaced pages using 12 point font.

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