California v. LaShaun Harris
LaShaun Harris is a mentally ill mother who drowned her three young children in San Francisco Bay. Prior to the tragedy, Ms. Harris was hospitalized several times and diagnosed by psychiatrists as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Despite repeated attempts by herself and family members, she did not receive additional psychiatric help. And even though every psychiatrist who examined her found her insane, the District Attorney sought first-degree murder against Ms. Harris.
The Focal Point’s Role
The Focal Point, providing pro bono trial strategy and graphic services on behalf of LaShaun Harris, worked with San Francisco Public Defender’s office Teresa Caffese to simplify the themes and issues of this very emotionally-charged case. We produced a series of graphics that taught the realities of living with paranoid schizophrenia as well as Ms. Harris’s own desperate attempts to combat the disease. We provided Ms. Caffese and her expert witness with several boards that allowed them to interact with the jury while teaching the devastating effects of Ms. Harris’s illness.
After an extended trial, San Francisco Superior Judge Kay Tsenin found Ms. Harris not guilty by reason of insanity. Ms. Harris was hospitalized where she is receiving the care she truly needs.
Superior Court of California (San Francisco County)
The Focal Point’s Client
Teresa Caffese, Chief Attorney