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Article
March 25, 1905

SHOULD INEBRIATES BE PUNISHED FOR CRIME BY DEATH ?

Author Affiliations

HARTFORD, CONN.

JAMA. 1905;XLIV(12):932-935. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.92500390016001c
Abstract

The severe criticism by lawyers and judges of medical expert testimony is often based on facts and is not altogether unjust. Physicians in the witness stand are often very stupid, and give strained interpretations of scientific facts, mixed up with opinions and theories, which give rise to a suspicion of hazy, inexact ideas, or of some personal motives. Such testimony concerning the mental condition of inebriates who have committed crime is still more confusing and doubtful. Physicians who are generally clear on other matters in their everyday life, particularly relating to questions of cause and effect, hesitate and are confused when called to describe the mental condition of persons continuously poisoned by alcohol. The toxic effects of alcohol on the organism seems to be a matter of uncertainty, but when in place of the word alcohol, arsenic or mercury is used there is great emphasis and clearness of statement. The

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