Collection Summary

Creator: Bonnie, Richard J.
Title: Addendum to the Papers of Richard J. Bonnie [d]
Accession: MSS 81-9d
Parent Collection: The Papers of Richard J. Bonnie
Description: 23 boxes; 10 shelf feet
Location: This collection is stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections before your visit to ensure your papers are available.
Photograph Collection: View 0 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 0 objects
Use Restrictions: Correspondence and certain confidential files restricted to scholars having Bonnie's permission for access.

Collection Description & Arrangement

This addition to the Bonnie papers, given to the law library in 1990, comprise 23 boxes (10 shelf feet). The bulk of the collection consists of files dated 1972 to 1990 dealing with the death penalty -- case files of eight death row inmates (four of whom were represented by Bonnie), and professional papers concerning the issue of mental competency. The case files consist mainly of records and briefs, but also include background material and correspondence. Most notable are those materials, such as psychiatric evaluations and clinical interviews, which pertain to the issue of mental competency. Bonnie's professional papers also include scholarly articles and transcripts of speeches dealing with this topic. Researchers must have Professor Bonnie's permission for access to the death row case files.

Also of note in these papers are files dealing with Bonnie's 1989 visit to the Soviet Union as a member of a delegation investigating psychiatric abuses in that country. These files contain the delegation's official report, travel accounts, interviews with Soviet psychiatric patients and translations of various Soviet laws and regulations. Researchers whose interest is human rights in the Soviet Union will find these files useful for they contain primary source material on the role of the Soviet psychiatric profession in suppressing dissent.

The Bonnie papers are grouped into five major categories:
1) Death Row Case Files (Restricted access)
2) Professional Papers
3) Personal Papers
4) Soviet Psychiatry Project
5) Restricted Files

Biographical & Historical Information

Richard Jeffrey Bonnie, John S. Battle Professor of Law and director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, is a recognized authority in the fields of mental health, drug law and criminal law. In addition to his roles at the Law School, where he began teaching in 1969, Bonnie has worked for the federal government in various capacities, and as a private consultant.

Born in 1945 at Richmond, Va., Bonnie received his bachelor of arts degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1966 and his law degree from Virginia three years later. He ranked first in his law school class, served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review, and belonged to the Order of the Coif and the Raven Society. Following graduation, Bonnie taught at the Law School for a year before becoming associate director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, serving from 1971 to 1973. In March 1972, the commission, under the direction of former Pennsylvania governor Raymond P. Shafer, unanimously recommended the decriminalization of consumption-related marijuana offenses. Although the report was endorsed by organizations such as the National Council of Churches and the National Education Association, it was quickly rejected by President Nixon and drew only a mixed response from state legislatures. An amendment to the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, drafted partially by Bonnie and incorporating the commission's findings, was approved by the National Conference of commissioners on Uniform
State Laws in 1973.

"From 1972 through 1977," Bonnie writes in the preface to his 1980 book, Marijuana Use and Criminal Sanctions, "I was actively involved in the effort to win legislative support for reforming the marijuana laws (p. iii)." During most of these years he was also teaching at the Law School (having returned in the fall of 1973), but he found time to participate in the marijuana reform movement in several ways. Bonnie was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (1975-1980), served as a special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, and helped write President Ford's White Paper on Drug Abuse in 1975. He testified on marijuana policy before two U.S. Senate subcommittees and 15 state legislative committees, and in 1976-1977 helped the National Governors' Conference develop its study on state marijuana penalties and policies. In 1977 he visited several European countries for the federal government, in part to explain the Carter administration's endorsement of marijuana decriminalization.

Besides Marijuana Use, Bonnie also co-authored The Marihuana Conviction (1974) with Virginia colleague Charles H. Whitebread II, as well as numerous articles on marijuana and drug law for scholarly journals and for periodicals ranging from the Washington Post to the National Enquirer. In the 1980s, Bonnie began to move away from drug law and turn his attention more to the fields of psychiatry, mental health and criminal law. He was chairman of the State Human Rights Committee (1979-1985), which was responsible for protecting the rights of the mentally ill and retarded in Virginia's public institutions, and co-authored a casebook on criminal law (1982) with Virginia professors Peter W. Low and John C. Jeffries, Jr. Bonnie became a noted expert on the insanity defense, a heated issue following the acquittal of John Hinckley, Jr. in 1982 for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Acquisition Information

Date Received 1990
Donor Information These papers were given to the Law Library in 1990 by Richard J. Bonnie.

Content List

Death Row Case Files
Boxes 1-14

  • Restricted Files

Professional Papers
Box 14

  • 1987-89; American Psychology Law Society
  • 1987-89; Article: "The Dignity of the Condemned"
  • 1988-90; Article: "Medical Ethics and the Death Penalty" (2 folders)
  • 1990; Birdwood Workshop: Abstract for paper on "Client Autonomy and Client Competency in Criminal Defense"
  • 1986-88; Center for the Prevention of Disease and Injury (2 folders)

Box 15

  • 1989-90; Conferences
  • 1987-89; Enzinna, Paul F. & Jana L. Gill: "Competency to be Executed" -- Correspondence
  • 1987-89; Institute for Behavior and Health (3 folders)
  • 1990; Institute of Medicine: Workshop on "Stalking Behavior"


Box 16

  • 1986-88; Juvenile Homicide Paper: Correspondence
  • 1983-87; Kendler, Kenneth S.: Adoption Study (2 folders)
  • 1985-88; MacArthur Foundation: Program on Mental Health Law
  • 1987; "National Health Objectives for the Year 2000"
  • 1988-90; President's Committee on Mental Retardation (3 folders)

Box 17

  • 1983, 1985-86; Sendor, Benjamin
  • 1988; Sleep Apnea and Auto Crashes
  • 1988-89; University of Maryland Legal Theory Workshop
  • 1988; University of Michigan School of Public Health: Speeches
  • 1988; Virginia Dept. of Health: Symposia on Neurologically Impaired

Personal Papers

Box 17-18

  • 1979-85, 1989; Gary Melton: Correspondence (2 folders)

Box 18

  • 1987-89; Miscellaneous Correspondence (3 folders)
  • 1972-73, Miscellaneous Federal Employment Records
  • 1975-89; Student Research Assistants

Soviet Psychiatry Project
Box 19

  • 1983, 1987-90; American Society of Law & Medicine
  • 1989; Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
  • 1989; Drafts of Report and Soviet Response (3 folders)


Box 20

  • 1989; Hospital Visits: Interviews (3 folders)
  • 1972, 1988-89; Laws & Regulations


Box 20-21

  • 1970, 1981, 1987-89; Materials on Forensic Psychiatry: Articles, Regulations (3 folders)


Box 21

  • 1968, 1979, 1981-83, 1985, 1987-89; Materials on Political Uses of Psychiatry (3 folders)
  • 1988-90; Newspaper Clippings


Box 22

  • 1989; Papers and Notes
  • 1987-89; Preparation for Trip: Correspondence (3 folders)
  • 1988-90; Peter Reddaway: Soviet Psychiatric Abuses
  • 1986-87; Lauren Roth: Travel Account
  • 1989; Yochelson Lecture -- Yale


Box 23

Restricted Files

Associated People

Use Policy

Access Correspondence and certain confidential files restricted to scholars having Bonnie's permission for access.
Use Restrictions Correspondence and certain confidential files restricted to scholars having Bonnie's permission for access.
Preferred Citation

The Papers of Richard J. Bonnie, MSS 81-9d, Box Number, Special Collections, University of Virginia Law Library

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