2006_01_gottlieb.jpgAs any armchair litigator (okay, Law & Order fan) knows, sometimes defendants plead not guilty by reason of insanity. And that's what Halloween sex attacker Peter Braunstein's lawyer may do. We were puzzled by Braunstein's not guilty plea yesterday, but it turns out that the defense has thirty days to decide whether or not to use an insanity defense for the not guilty plea. It's like we've just taken "Criminal Court, 101"! His lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, said that doctors at Bellevue, where Braunstein is under suicide watch (you try to stab yourself with a knife when confronted by the police, you get suicide watch), had performed some sort of psychiatric evaluation, but "apparently [it] was not a court-ordered examination." Maybe the doctors just wanted to know what they and their staffers should be worried about? Anyway, the NY Times prints the money quote: Braunstein's father, Alberto, told reporters, "I always said he was deranged and I still think he's deranged, and that's about it."

And Braunstein's "on-the-run" diary sounds like the groundwork for an insanity plea. Even an NYPD source said "most of the writing makes no sense."

Photograph of Alberto Braunstein and lawyer Robert Gottlieb from Newsday