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April 11, 1908


JAMA. 1908;L(15):1197. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02530410037009

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Public sentiment is rapidly developing an opposition to the present methods of procedure in the trial of criminal cases in which abnormal mental conditions form a factor. The legal methods at present pursued are an inheritance from the days of the old English common law, under which an individual accused of insanity was treated as a criminal and put on trial as though accused of some violation of the law. The absurdity of present methods has been emphasized of late by several conspicuous examples. Not only have medical journals reiterated statements long accepted by the medical profession, but editors of lay newspapers as well have been moved to comment on the need of reform. A particularly timely comment appeared recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, which said editorially: "If the criminal is insane, let him be committed to an asylum. If he is not insane, let him be brought to

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