Excerpt from American Journal of Insanity, 1866-7, Vol. 23: Edited by the Medical Officers of the New York State Lunatic Asylum
When the proof of insanity is ever so strong, there may, and gen erally will be, a doubt whether, nevertheless, the accused was not sane. This is a doubt of sanity, which should never convict, but should always acquit. Belief is of different degrees of certainty and assurance. On such a metaphysical question as that of partial insan ity, no proof of it can impress the jury with moral certainty. The preponderating probability of insanity may be as assuring as that on which they individually act in the affairs of ordinary life, and there fore may be said to believe the alleged insanity, and yet may feel some rational doubt of it. Such a doubt in such belief may compel a rational doubt of responsible sanity. And, so doubting, the jury ought not to convict.
But when the evidence strongly preponderates in favor of sanity, a doubt whether, nevertheless, the accused was not insane, should never acquit, and this is what we mean by a doubt of insanity.
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