Gambar halaman

Rule ap


that the act he is doing is done by the immediate command of God, and he acts under the delusive but sincere belief that what he is doing is by the command of a superior power, which supersedes all human laws and the laws of nature."1

$ 38. So far as the law thus stated goes it has been recognized as anthoritative in this country. Even where there is no pretence of insanity, it has been held that if a man, plies to all though in no danger of serious bodily harm, through fear, erroneous alarm, or cowardice, kill another under the impression gent conthat great bodily injury is about to be inflicted on him, it is neither manslaughter nor murder, but self-defence ;3 and though this proposition is too broadly stated, as is remarked by Bronson, J., when commenting on it in a later case in New York, and should be qualified so as to make it necessary that there should be facts and circumstances existing which would lead the jury to believe that the defendant had reasonable ground (in proportion to his own lights) for his belief, yet with this qualification it is now generally received. And, indeed, after the general though tardy acquiescence in Selfridge's Case, where the same view was taken as early as 1805 by Chief Justice Parker, of Massachusetts, and after the almost literal incorporation of the leading distinctions of this case into the Revised Statutes of New York, as well as into the judicial system of most of the States, the point must be considered as

1 That this covers Hadfield's Case, the converse, and suppose the defence see 2 Steph. Hist. Crim. Law, 160. is merely homicidal insanity. In such

· The supposed contradictions of the a case it would be proper to tell the jury authorities on this point have arisen that unless they believe the homicidal from an attempt to reduce into an in- impulse to have been uncontrollable, flexible code opinions which, while they must convict; and yet nothing relatively true in their particular con- would be more unjust than to make nection, were not meant for general this proposition, true in itself, a genapplication. Thus, for instance, when eral rule to bear on such cases as a defendant in whom there is no pre- idiocy. It is by confining the decisions tence of mania or homicidal insanity of the courts to the particular state claims to be exempt from punishment of facts from which they have been on the ground of incapacity to distin- elicited that we can extract from the guish right from wrong, the court very mass of apparently conflicting dicta properly tells the jury that the question the propositions given in the text. for them to determine is, whether he 3 Infra, & 489; Grainger v. State, 5 labors under such incapacity or not. Yerg. 459, 1833. The error has been to seize such an * See citation infra, % 489, note. expression as this as an arbitrary ele- 5 See infra, ?8 488 et seq.; Whart. on mentary dogma, and to insist on its Hom. & 490; Cunningham v. State, 56 application to all other cases. Or, take Miss. 269, 1879.

finally at rest. Perhaps the doctrine, as laid down originally in Selfridge's Case, would have met with a much earlier acquiescence had not the supposed political bias of the court in that extraordinary trial, and the remarkable laxity shown in the framing of the bill of indictment and in the adjustment of bail, led to a deep-seated professional prejudice, which reached even such parts of the charge as were sound. With these cases may be classed that of Levet, who was in bed and asleep in his house when his maid-servant, who had hired A., the deceased, to help her to do the work, thought as she was going to let A. out about midnight, that she heard thieves breaking open the door, upon which she ran up stairs to the defendant, her master, and informed him thereof. Suddenly aroused, he sprang from his bed and ran down stairs with his sword drawn, the deceased hiding herself in the buttery lest she should be discovered. The defendant's wife, observing some person there, and not knowing her, but conceiving her to be a thief, cried out, “Here are they who would undo us;" and the defendant, in the paroxysm of the moment, dashed into the buttery, thrust his sword at the deceased and killed her. The defendant was acquitted under the express instructions of the court, and the case has remained unquestioned for two hundred years, and in New York and Pennsylvania in particular, after very careful examination, has been solemnly reaffirmed. It is true that it has been held inadmissible to prove that the defendant was of weak intellect, particularly nervous, and inclined to fright. But if such nervous debility amounts to insanity, it is certainly a defence; and whether the proof reaches this point the question is for the jury, under the direction of the court, to decides $ 39. In none of the cases which have just been noticed is the

actual existence of danger an essential ingredient, and danger not certainly, as the intentions of an assailant are incapable necessary. of positive entertainment, such a danger can never be absolutely shown to exist. It is true that in cases to be hereafter noticed, dicta have been thrown out to the effect that the danger must be such as to alarm a reasonable man; but whenever the



1 Levet's Case, Cro. Car. 538; 1 * Patterson v. People, 46 Barb. 625, Hale, P. C. 42, 474. Infra, % 492. 1865; State v. Shoultz, 25 Mo. 128,

See, for a fuller discussion of this 1857; Jacobs v. Com., 121 Pa. 586, case, infra, ??, 467, 495,

1888. 3 See cases cited infra, 3, 488 et seq., 6 Whart. Cr. Ev. & 68. note.

Infra, % 488.


[ocr errors]

requisite state of facts has been presented, courts have not hesitated to say that the danger must be estimated, not by the jury's standard, but by that of the defendant himself. Thus, an enlightened and learned judge in Pennsylvania, one who would be among the last to weaken any of the sanctions of human life, directed the jury to take into consideration the relative characters, as individuals,' of the deceased and the defendant, and, in determining whether the danger really was imminent or not, to inquire “ whether the deceased was bold, strong, and of a violent and vindictive character, and the defendant much weaker, and of a timid disposition. And though it may not be admissible to prove, by way of defence, that the deceased was of a barbarous and vindictive nature and character, unless this tend to explain the defendant's conduct under an apparently sudden and deadly attack, yet threats uttered by the deceased, and expressions of hostile feeling of which the defendant was advised, may always be received as explaining the excited condition of the defendant's mind.3

$ 40. The principle which may be inferred from the cases is, that if by an insane delusion, or depravation of the reasoning

Delusion faculty, the defendant insanely believes, either that an must be imagined evil is so intolerable as to make life-taking necessary or justifiable in order to avert it, or that while the evil is of a lesser grade, life-taking is an appropriate and just way of getting rid of it, he is entitled to such a verdict as will transfer him from the category of sane to insane criminals. But the delusion must be mental not moral."



Infra, & 491; Whart. Cr. Ev. 2% 69, act that he is doing wrong, and is vio757. See Com. v. Barnacle, 134 Mass. lating the laws of the land, is illus216, 1883, and cases cited infra, 2 489. trated by Lord Erskine in a well1 Whart. Cr. Ev. % 69.

known case: “Let me suppose,” he 3 Com. v. Wilson, 1 Gray, 337, 1854. said, "the character of an insane deSee infra, 2 489; Whart. Cr. Ev. 2 757. lusion consisted in the belief that some

* See Wesley v. State, 37 Miss. 327, given person was any brute animal, or 1866, where the position in the text is an inanimate being (and such cases controverted at large.

have existed), and that upon the trial 5 R. v. Burton, 3 F. & F. 772, 1862; of such a lunatic for murder, you, R. v. Townley, 3 F. & F. 839, 1862; being on your oaths, were convinced, Willis v. People, 5 Parker, C. R. 621, upon the uncontradicted evidence of 1860.

one hundred persons, that he believed That an insane delusion, as to the the man he had destroyed to have been value or nature of human life, will a potter's vessel; that it was quite imhave this effect, even though the party possible to doubt that fact, although himself knows when committing the to other intents and purposes he was § 41. Partial insanity, however, is no defence, when the crime was not its immediate product. If the defendant was sane as to

sane-answering, reasoning, acting as was with reference to the crime of men not in any manner tainted with murder.” What, therefore, he in fact insanity, converse and reason and con- decided was, that a man who, under duct themselves. Suppose, further, an insane delusion, shoots another, is that he believed the man whom he irresponsible when the act is the destroyed, but whom he destroyed as product of the delusion. Such, ina potter's vessel, to be the property deed, on general reasoning, must be of another, and that he had malice held to be the law in this country, and against such supposed person, and that such will it be held to be when any he meant to injure him, knowing the particular case arises which requires act he was doing to be malicious and its application. Ibid. injurious; and that, in short, he had In England this view has been full knowledge of all principles of recognized in several cases, notwithgood and evil; yet would it be pos- standing the reluctance of the courts sible to convict such a person of in that country to enlarge the boundmurder, if, from the influence of the aries of insane irresponsibility. Thus, disease, he was ignorant of the rela- on the trial of Hadfield, who could tion in which he stood to the man he distinguish between right and wrong, had destroyed, and was utterly uncon- but who was under a delusion that it scious that he had struck at the life of was his duty to offer himself as a saca human being ?” Winslow on Plea rifice for his fellow-men, and that his of Insanity, 6.

shortest way of doing so was to kill Again, in a case which has more than the king, which he knew to be morally once occurred within the walls of a wrong, Lord Kenyon, on these facts lunatic asylum, a man fancies himself being made out, advised a withdrawal to be the Grand Lama or Alexander of the prosecution. The same course the Great, and supposes that his was followed by Chief Justice Tindal neighbor is brought before him for an in McNaughten's Case, when, on a trial invasion of his sovereignty, and he for shooting at Mr. Drummond, the cuts off his head or throttles him. He private secretary of Sir Robert Peel, a knows he is doing wrong; perhaps, similar delusion was proved. See, also, from a sense of guilt, he conceals the R. v. Brixey, and R. v. Touchett, cited body; he may have a clear perception in 1 Bennett & Heard's Lead. Cases, of the legal consequences of his act. 99. It has also been held that on an In such a case, however, criminal re- indictment for maliciously setting fire sponsibility, in the full sense of the to a building, in order to justify a term, does not exist. It was in con- jury in acquitting a prisoner on the formity with this view, in a case where ground of insanity, “they must beit was proved that the defendant had lieve that he did not know right from taken the life of another under the wrong ; but if they find that the prisoner, notion that he was set about with a when he did the act, was in such a state conspiracy to subject him to imprison- of mind that he was not conscious that the ment and death, that Lord Lyndhurst effect of it would be to injure any other told the jury that they might "acquit person, this will amount to a general the prisoner on the ground of insanity verdict of not guilty.” R. v. Davies, 1 if he did not know, when he com- F. & F. 69, 1858-Crompton. mitted the act, what the effect of it In the ecclesiastical courts the ex

Partial in

the crime, but insane on other topics, the insanity in the latter respect will not save him. The crime must have been the result of a delusion. A delusion, therefore, that arises, sanity no not from an irrepressible and absolute chimera, but from defence as imperfect information or imperfect reasoning which care not its

product. and diligence could correct, does not excuse crime committed under its influence. It is consequently admissible for the prosecution to show that the delusion was the result of logical processes which, though prejudiced, were not abnormal. But it does not follow from this that an insane delusion on a matter not directly at issue may not be part of a chain of evidence from which general insanity may be inferred.”

§ 42. Nor should it be forgotten that a delusion, to be a defence to an indictment for crime, must be non-negligent. When there is reason sufficient to correct a delusion, then

exculpate person continuing to nourish it, when there is opportunity must be

non-negligiven him for such correction, is responsible for the con- gent. sequences.

Delusion to


3. Irresistible Impulse. § 43. In order to clear the question now before us from ambiguities, it is proper to remark :

istence of delusions or hallucination 1876; State v. Mewherter, 46 Iowa, 88, on material points has frequently been 1877; Boswell v. State, 63 Ala. 307, held to so far constitute insanity as to 1879; State v. Simms, 71 Mo. 538, 1880; pro tanto destroy testamentary ca- Bovard v. State, 30 Miss. 600, 1860; pacity. Dew v. Clark, 1 Addams Ecl. State v. Gut, 13 Minn. 341, 1867; R. 279; Frere v. Peacocke, 1 Robert- Hawe v. State, 11 Nebr. 537, 1881. Sir son, 442; 1 Whart. & St. Med. Jur. J. F. Stephen, Cr. Law, art. 27, takes 23, 34-60.

the same ground. U. S. v. Young, In this country the legitimacy of (N. C.) 7 Crim. Law Mag. 729, 1885. such a defence in criminal cases has * State v. Pike, 49 N. H. 399, 1849. been in several instances specifically Hence, when an insane delusion is recognized. U. S. v. Holmes, 1 Cliff. set up as a defence, it is admissible 98, 1858; Com. v. Rogers, 7 Metc. 500, for the prosecution to offer evidence 1843; People v. Pine, 2 Barbour, 566, to prove that the delusion was sane, 1849; State v. Windsor, 5 Harr. 512, i. e., that it was an opinion that ordi1847; Com. v. Freth, 3 Phila. 105, nary reasoning might have produced. 1849; Roberts v. State, 3 Ga. 310, 1847; State v. Pike, 49 N. H. 399, 1849. See 1 Whart. & St. Med. Jur. & 134. 1 Whart. & St. Med. Jur. & 144.

State v. Lawrence, 57 Me. 574, 8 See 2 Steph. Hist. Crim. Law, 162. 1869; Sindram v. People, 88 N. Y. * See this argued at large, 1 Whart. 196, 1882; Com. v. Mosler, 4 Barr, 264, & St. Med. Jur. 2 137; and see infra, 1846 ; State v. Geddis, 42 Iowa, 264, & 492.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »