Edited by Brian P. Pace, MA, Assistant Editor.
It is notorious enough that the plea of insanity in criminal cases has
fallen into popular discredit and the term "insanity dodge" is characteristic
of the common notion, in this regard. That this popular idea is to a certain
extent erroneous is also true enough, though it may not be so easy to convince
the average layman of the fact. Indeed the very cases that have made the plea
unpopular may be and often are the ones in which it is most justly urged;
the public furor for the execution of some imbecile or paranoiac whose crime
has especially aroused popular reprobation not infrequently doubly blinds
justice and leads to what is hardly morally better than lynch law under its
forms. Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH or whoever else it was that made many years ago
a rather formidable charge of judicial murder against the then existing English
law on this account would were he living still find many instances in modern
practice in this and his own country to warrant his accusations.
THE "INSANITY DODGE.". JAMA. 1998;279(15):1232A. doi:10.1001/jama.279.15.1232