Sane or Insane?: Daniel M’Naghten

The Criminal: Daniel M’Naghten220px-scottish_reformer27s_gazette_1

The Year: 1843

The Place: London, England

The Verdict: Acquitted

“To establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.” – The M’Naghten Rules

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Introducing: Sane or Insane? Tracking the Insanity Defense through History

At the heart of the case of Josephine McCarty is an inescapable contradiction: in January 1872 Mrs. McCarty shot and killed a man in broad daylight, on a streetcar full of passengers, and by June she was acquitted, free once again to ride the streetcar like any other Utican, to travel at will, and to go about her business as though nothing happened.

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