Odd Law Alert: New Mexico Expert Wizard Amendment

Wicked_Witch_of_the_EastIn 1995, former New Mexico State Senator Duncan Scott proposed a legislative amendment mandating that psychiatrists testifying as expert witnesses dress as wizards.[i] Yes, you read that right. Wizards.

Specifically, the text of the amendment read as follows:

When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding a defendant’s competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong…


Apparently, Senator Scott introduced this amendment in a satirical manner because he felt that the number of psychiatrists testifying as expert witnesses was excessive.[ii] Lo and behold, the New Mexico Senate passed the amendment unanimously.[iii] Luckily, the wizard amendment was excised prior to consideration by the House, so it never actually became effective as law.[iv]

[i] S. Floor Amend. 1 to S.B. 459, 42d Leg., 1st Sess. (N.M. 1995).

[ii] Chris Pamplin, No wizards or wands, 162 NLJ 876 (2012).

[iii] Erik Magraken, What do Psychiatrists, Wizards and the American Southwest Have in Common?, BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog (June 20th, 2011), https://goo.gl/TNNBUW (last visited May 22, 2018).

[iv] Id.

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