Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-2pzkn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-26T00:00:38.797Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

2 - ‘I Was Not in My Senses, and a Man's Senses Are Himself’: The Legal Defence of Insanity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2014

Trish Ferguson
Affiliation:
Liverpool Hope University, UK
Get access

Summary

The provision of defence counsel in criminal trials from 1836 sparked an unforeseen debate on how to establish a reliable and consistent means for determining a prisoner's mental state in questions of criminal responsibility. The landmark tort trial of Vaughan v. Menlove (1837) established the ‘reasonable man’ standard by which juries should base their decisions on the grounds that ‘whether the Defendant had acted honestly and bona fide to the best of his own judgment … would leave so vague a line as to afford no rule at all … we ought rather to adhere to the rule which requires in all cases a regard to caution such as a man of ordinary prudence would observe’. While this seemed to offer a transferable standard with which to judge cases of legal culpability when dealing with a ‘reasonable man’, it could not be applied in cases of insanity where reason was the very quality of mind under consideration. The most notorious homicide case of the century raised the question of the definition of legal insanity. This was the case of Daniel McNaughten who killed Edmund Drummond in 1843 believing him to be Sir Robert Peel, under the delusion that the Tories were his enemies. Rather than leaving the jury to use the ‘reasonable man’ standard, which he had established in Vaughan v. Menlove, in McNaughten's trial, Justice Tindal directed the jury to acquit. Without retiring to deliberate, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the ground of insanity.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2013

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×