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insanity testified to by witnesses who were conversant with him before the homicide, did not appear during all this period of nearly five months. This we have already remarked upon in another connection.
Now although the opinion of Drs. Ray and Earle and Butler, that Clark was insane, was given with great confidence, we think that the testimony leaves some doubt on the question of his insanity, and very great doubt upon the question whether insanity, if it did exist, was the direct cause of the commission of the homicide. And we say again that these questions were not properly investigated. There was searching investigation, as there should have been, of the condition of Clark's mind during the most important period of the case.
We are left to hap-hazard revelations at the very time when investigation is essential. Investigation after a lapse of three months was for many reasons too late. The key to unlock the doubt and mystery of this case was not used when it could be had. The golden inoments of discovery, when crucial experiments might have ascertained the exact truth, were left to slip by.
If the investigation indicated had been made, we know not what would have been the result. How it would have decided the two great questions of the case-viz, whether Clark was insane, and if so, what connection his insanity had with the homicide is entirely in the dark to us. We never have seen a case in which there was so much testimony, and yet such a lack of that which is absolutely essential. If this essential evidence had been obtained, it would have thrown light upon the doubtful and deficient points of the case, and cleared up its discrepancies. If, for example, under the investigation alluded to, the story told by Clark to Drs. Butler and Earle had been told by him with all its minutiæ immediately or soon after the homicide, the proof not only of the existence of insanity, but of its direct connection with the deed, would have been complete. It, on the other hand, such an investigation had shown that revenge was the absorbing feeling, and not merely incidental, and that the notions or delusions, to which allusion has so often been made, were rather faint and indistinct at first, and were only developed by the questions put to him from time to time, the conclusion would have been, that the homicide was the result of wickedness, and that if there was insanity, it had little to do with the commission of the deed.
Now where lies the blame of the defective mode of investigating the question of insanity in this case? No blame is to
be attached to the attorney for the state or the counsel for the prisoner. They were not aware of the importance of the evidence, which might have been obtained by a searching investigation during the three months after the homicide. Neither are we to blame the experts who began their investigation after this time had elapsed. They did the best that they could do under the circumstances. No individual is to be blamed. The fault is in the mode of investigating such cases, established by custom, we can hardly say by law. It is a very loose and inefficient mode, as is seen in the case before us. The law needs to step in and establish a better mode. Of this we shall speak further on.
There is another defect, a minor one it is true, but still a defect in this prevalent mode of investigating the question of insanity in such cases, which deserves a notice. It makes the scientific witnesses in their relation to the case, and therefore to some extent in their feelings, witnesses either for the state or for the prisoner. They are more or less partisans. We say more or less. There is under such circumstances an influence which has more or less effect, according to the character, both mental and moral, of the witness. Some resist it better than others, but all feel it, and in some degree yield to it. It is an influence which perhaps would not be seen where the case is a clear one. But in a case where there are discrepancies and deficiencies in the testimony, as in the case before us, it would manifest itself. Drs. Ray and Earle and Butler are men of undoubted honesty ; but we think we can see in them some little of this influence, in their overlooking what we consider to be discrepancies and defects in the testimony bearing on the question of Clark's insanity. And if it can be seen in such men, it would be much more operative in men of less stern integrity and less acuteness of discrimination. In England, where the question of insanity is brought before legal tribunals in various ways much more often than it is in this country as yet, the intsuence referred to is so often witnessed, that it is frequently commented upon in the public journals. It is no unusual thing there to see scientific men arranged against each other, and giving opposite opinions, each one being retained as a witness either on the one side or the other.
In the case before us, all the medical testimony in relation to the question of insanity, was on one side, that of the defense. After two of the medical witnesses had visited Clark, and had come to the conclusion from their examination that he was insane, the attorney for the state requested Drs. Knight and Jewett to visit the prisoner. Dr. Jewett went to the prison for this purpose, but Clark declined to talk with him, unless his counsel should consent. The result of the matter was that the counsel did not consent, and so Drs. Knight and Jewett did not converse with the prisoner. For ourselves, we do not see why they were thus excluded. If they were persons incapable of discrimination on the subject of insanity, or if they went there from mere idle curiosity, the exclusion would have been certainly proper. But as they are intelligent physicians, and one of them of very large experience in insanity, as well as in disease generally, no “unguarded expression” dropped by the prisoner, would have been used improperly by them. This exclusion may be right, for ought we know, according to the rules of legal tactics; but it certainly shows, that the investigation of the question of insanity in this case was kept, so far as it could be, in the hands of the counsel for the defense.
Now we think that every one will allow, that the examination of a purely scientific question should, as much as possible, be taken away from all influences which would bias the investigators, and especially in a case of such importance as the one under consideration. They should not be in any sense or degree retained on either side. They should be wholly untrammeled in their investigations.
The considerations that we have thus presented in relation to the defects in the prevalent mode of investigating the question of insanity in such cases as the one before us, bring us to the main object that we have had in writing this article. The enquiry arises in view of these defects, whether there is any plan by which they can be avoided. There is a plan that has been long in use in France, which is of this character. The practice there is, in any case where insanity is suspected, to place the prisoner under the supervision of what is termed a Commission of Lunacy, composed of men who are practically qualified to decide such a question. They examine all the facts in the case, applying every possible test. They converse with the prisoner, observe him at all hours, instruct the attendants how to observe him, confront him with his friends and companions, and go through a most pains-taking investigation, taking notes of the whole of it. Upon the data thus gathered they make their report under oath. And a distinguished English writer on insanity says of these reports, that they are “remarkable for sound reasoning, extensive pyschopathic knowledge and integrity of purpose.” This Commission, it is to be observed, is appointed by the government, and neither the attorney for the state, nor the counsel for the prisoner, have anything to do with the course which they pursue. They are
left to carry out their scientific examination of the case coolly and perseveringly, without any influences that can bias them.
It must be obvious to every one, that if Clark had, immediately after the homicide, been subjected to such a prolonged and thorough and unbiassed examination as this method secures, the two great questions in his case would not have been left in doubt as they are now. Such a Commission would have filled
a up the chasm that now appears in the testimony with evidence of the most decisive character. The most valuable time for investigating the case would not have been left to pass by, without making any discoveries, except what came by mere chance. Simulation of insanity, with such constant and long continued watching and such varied tests, would be sure to be detected. And we may remark in passing, that if the French regard such a pains-taking course as necessary to guard against deception, it certainly implies that deception is possi. ble when the investigation is delayed for months after the commission of the crime, and then is only pursued during two visits. On the other hand, if such an investigation as this onght to satisfy scientific men, then the French method is useless and even ridiculous pains-taking.
This plan, which has been so long in use in France, has been found to work satisfactorily there. All scientific men are satisfied with the conclusions arrived at by the Commissions of Lunacy, and there is no feeling there, as there often is here and in England, that the question of the existence of insanity is not fully and fairly investigated. We hope then that the same plan will be adopted in this country, and that the Legislature of Connecticut will act upon it at its next session, as the defects of the plan in vogue among us have been recently so plainly exemplified.
Another object which we have had in reviewing this trial, is to bring out distinctly the important fact, that the relations of insanity to crime are various in degree and form. This fact has not yet been recognized in courts of justice, as distinctly and as frequently as it should be. The bare fact that a man is insane does not furnish a valid excuse for crime. In order to make a verdict of entire acquittal proper, the act must flow wholly, or chiefly at least, from the insanity. There must be a tide from this direction which the man cannot resist, to remove responsibility and deliver from punishment.
The act for which a man really insane may be arraigned, may be one of sheer wickedness. His insanity may have nothing to do with it. This, however, is seldom the case. More of ten the insanity either is the sole or at least chief cause of the VOL. XIV.
act; or it exerts an incidental influence, operating merely as an auxiliary agency. In this latter case, a very natural qnestion arises-viz, how far this incidental or concurrent infuence of insanity should lessen the penalty. In some cases it should do so, more or less, according to the degree of agency exerted by the insanity. This is often a difficult point to settle, and the grounds upon which it can be settled can be furnished only by the thorough mode of investigation which we have described as followed by the Commissions of Lunacy in France. The ordinary mode pursued in this country and in England is wholly incompetent to master a point like this.
In some cases this insanity may exert an incidental influence, and yet may afford no ground for lessening the penalty. To make this clear we will suppose that
Clark was possessed with the one insane delusion, that Mrs. Wight loved him and did 220t lure her husband. This delusion in itself would not prompt him to kill Wight. It might act, however, as an auxiliary agency. It might intensify in him the desire for revenge, and thus have an incidental influence in pushing him on to the fatal act. So might the momentary excitement of passion. So too might bis gross infidelity and materialism, making him reckless of life. But, neither his momentary passion, nor his infidelity, acting thus incidentally, would be considered by a jury as palliating his crime; and so should not insanity, when it has merely the incidental influence to which we have referred.
We would like to go into this subject more extensively, but it would make this article too long. We have thrown out a few of the leading ideas which it suggests, with the hope that they may stimulate those who have the subject of the jurisprudence of insanity in hand, to a full investigation of the principles involved in reference to their practical application. The laws evidently need to be to some extent altered, in order to conform to the principles indicated. Without dwelling on this point we would merely remark, that in the case before us,
if the jury had come to the conclusion, that, though Clark was insane, his insanity had only an incidental influence in causing him to commit the homicide, and yet to such an extent as to palliate his guilt, they could not have rendered a verdict in accordance with this opinion. They were shut up to the alternative of a verdict of guilty, or one of not guilty on the ground of insanity. For the judge, in the conclusion of his charge, used this language: "Was he capable of understanding the transaction or was he not? If he was, you have no alternative but to pronounce him guilty; if he was not, then he is not guilty.” There are other points than those indicated,