The question of how to determine whether someone knew they were committing a crime has long been an epistemological briar patch. As 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski put it in a Monday opinion, “we’ve seen a proliferation of narrow, heavily fact-dependant and at times contradictory opinions that have been difficult for both judges and litigants to navigate.”

So, in his majority opinion for a 15-member en banc panel, Kozinski set out to “clear away the underbrush” surrounding how juries should be told to treat a defendant who claims she didn’t know that what she was doing was a crime, even if she probably should have.

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