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Article
November 18, 1893

LAY EVIDENCE OF INSANITY.

JAMA. 1893;XXI(21):778-779. doi:10.1001/jama.1893.02420730028008

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Abstract

A general rule of law forbids witnesses, not experts, testifying as to a mere opinion. In some courts the line is drawn so closely that non-expert witnesses are not allowed to testify at all, touching sanity or insanity as a physical fact. By the great majority of courts, however, such evidence is regarded as no violation of the general rule, and is admitted, says the Supreme Court of Nebraska, in the case of Shults v. State, decided June 30, 1893, and just reported in 55 N. W. Rep. 1080. Still this view of it does not permit non-expert witnesses giving what without doubt is a mere opinion, as for example, upon so vital a question as the legal accountability of a person for a homicide admittedly committed by him, or as that, at a certain date, such party knew the difference between the right and wrong of an act at

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