Fit to Be Tried

A Stanford psychiatrist plies his expertise in the case of Patricia Hearst.

September 2023

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Fit to Be Tried

THE EXAMINER: Lunde (left) evaluated many defendants over the years, from Hearst (right, center) to serial killers to San Francisco Supervisor Dan White. Photos from left: Chuck Painter/Stanford News Service; John Malmin/Los Angeles Times/UCLA

The heiress Patricia Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment in February 1974; two months later, she robbed a bank with her captors. After she was taken into custody by federal agents, Stanford psychiatry professor Donald Lunde, ’58, MA ’64, MD ’66, was one of three court-appointed mental health experts who deemed her fit to stand trial (a fourth said she would be unable to meaningfully participate in her defense). In his 2007 book, Hearst to Hughes: Memoir of a Forensic Psychiatrist, Lunde described meeting Hearst for the first time in the San Mateo County Jail (Hearst knew of Lunde: One friend had worked for him as a researcher; another had taken Lunde’s popular Human Sexuality course at Stanford). Lunde, who died in 2007, examined many high-profile defendants over the years, including serial killers Herbert Mullin and Edmund Kemper, and Dan White, who killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk. Until 1981, he held a joint appointment at the School of Medicine and at the Law School; at the latter, he co-taught a course called Clinical Seminar in the Trial of the Mentally Disordered Criminal Defendant. 

Rebecca Beyer is a Boston-area journalist. Email her at stanford.magazine@stanford.edu.

Vintage 1973 Collection

Stanford is 50! It turns out we’re not the only one. Walk with us down memory lane as we sample some of the wonders and horrors of the 1973–74 academic year on the Farm, and in the world around.

Start the Presses

Were Golden

89 Rodins Find a New Home

A Godfather Delivers a Ransom Payment

A Splashy Debut

The Winds of Freedom

SLE Club

‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

The Poet and the Coup

Steps Toward Saving Salamanders Are Set in Motion

A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

The First Stanford Astronaut Returns from Space

The End of the Nursing Education Era

Keepers of the Flame

50 Years After the Stanford Murders, Three of Four Families Have Answers

A Classic Is Released

A Young Lawyer Wins an Educational Equity Case

Joining the Force


The Axe Is Stolen One Last Time

Fit to Be Tried

For Commencement Speaker, a Watergate Special Prosecutor

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