Insanity and Criminal Responsibility. II

Edwin R. Keedy
1917 Harvard Law Review  
Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the mid--seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non--commercial purposes. Read more about Early Journal
more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. HARVARD LAW REVIEW INSANITY AND CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY II FOR the purpose of comparing the scope of the proposed section with existing rules, the law in three prominent states (Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois) will now be examined. Massachusetts. The Supreme Judicial Court in I905 approved the following test of responsibility: "In order to constitute a crime, a person must have intelligence and capacity enough to have a criminal intent and purpose; and if his reason and mental powers are either so deficient that he has no will, no conscience, or 81 controlling mental powers, or 81 if, through the overwhelming violence of mental disease, his intellectual power is for the time obliterated, he is not a responsible moral agent, and is not punishable for criminal acts." 82 The same court in I9I4 announced the following "working rule whereby the jury are to be guided" in cases where the defense is insanity: "If then it is proved, to the satisfaction of the jury, that the mind of the accused was in a diseased and unsound state, the question will be, whether the disease existed to so high a degree that for the time being it overwhelmed the reason, conscience, and 81 judgment, and 81 whether the prisoner, in committing the homicide, acted from an irresistible and uncontrollable impulse: If so, then the act was not the act of a voluntary agent, but the involuntary act of the body, without the concurrence of a mind directing it." 83 The later test is capable of two interpretations. It may be regarded as meaning (i) that there shall be lack of reason, conscience, and judgment in addition to the existence of an irresistible impulse, or (2) that, though reason, conscience, and judgment are still active, the impulse being irresistible cannot be restrained by them. As the conjunctive connective is used, the first would seem to be the proper interpretation.
doi:10.2307/1327847 fatcat:r7cw3hz5u5dtle2wl5gdzi4pjm