Lady Macbeth Remanded for Competency Hearing

Thanks to a Team of Hamline Law Alums

Prosecutor Birch Burdick JD ’92 listened to a question in Scotland v. Macbeth & Lady Macbeth.

Lynn Boughey JD ’83 was one of three Hamline Law Alumni who participated in the cases of Scotland v. Macbeth & Lady Macbeth and Denmark v. Hamlet in Fargo, ND in April. Lynn, who represented Hamlet, Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth, is a Bismarck lawyer, author and Shakespeare scholar. Robert Martin JD ’88, a North Dakota public defender and a candidate for judgeship, represented Denmark. Birch Burdick JD ’92, North Dakota’s Cass County Attorney, represented Scotland.

In anticipation of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday in late April, this continuing legal education workshop gave North Dakota judges and attorneys the opportunity to debate the facts – and the law surrounding the Bard’s stories of Macbeth and Hamlet.

Prosecutor Robert Martin JD ’88 prepared for the arguments in Denmark v. Hamlet.

Was Macbeth's criminal conduct a result of mental disease? And was the jury correct in rejecting Hamlet's insanity defense? The CLE gave participants an opportunity to explore the role of advocates in applying rules and laws to complex fact patterns. Participants noted that aspects of Shakespeare’s tales of drama and tragedy are echoed in courtrooms every day.

A three-panel court ruled from the bench. Although some of Hamlet’s convictions were reversed and Lady Macbeth was remanded for a proper competency hearing, all three remain in custody, perhaps for another 400 years. They are now contemplating post-conviction relief. The judges included Federal Judge Ralph Erickson, North Dakota District Judge Norman Anderson and Tribal Judge William Zuger.

Read Lynn’s article “Shakespeare and The Law: What We Lawyers Can Learn from the Bard,” which he wrote for the North Dakota Bar Association magazine, The Gavel.

Lynn Boughey JD ’83 served as defense counsel for Hamlet, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

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