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October 22, 1898


JAMA. 1898;XXXI(17):992-993. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.02450170046007

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The suspicional fear of the unknown which causes primitive races to believe that natural death can not occur, and that all deaths must be due to some malign influence, either supernatural or homicidal by poisoning, survives in this last phase among the English-speaking nations. From this comes the detective mania so often exhibited by the press and the practitioner of "crowner's-quest law," who have been ridiculed since the time coroners were originated by the Norman kings to secure forfeiture of goods of felons for royal benefit. (Green's History of the English People, Vol. i.) In English-speaking countries, the coroner, as a rule, true to the detective theories which have given him birth, generally chimes in with the press in its detective predilection for criminal accusation, in violation of the central principle of the English common law: that every crime must be proven beyond a doubt, and that every circumstance that

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