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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Antic Disposition: Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0908  Tuesday, 2 April 2002

From:           Anthony Burton <
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Date:           Sunday, 31 Mar 2002 22:33:52 -0500
Subject: 13.0900 Re: Antic Disposition: Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0900 Re: Antic Disposition: Question

According to William Blackstone in his "Commentaries on the Laws of
England", and citing the authority of Coke at 3 Institutes 6, insanity
was a defense to criminal charges:

" In criminal cases, therefore, idiots and lunatics are not chargeable
for their own acts, if committed when under these incapacities, not even
for treason itself."

Coke's Institutes were intended to constitute an epitome of established
English law, largely what we think of as common law, and therefore not
as Cliff Stetner surmises, a "new" legal principle.  (I don't know if
Bracton deals with this concept, but it's absence from the notes at my
disposal makes me think that he didn't.) Moreover, the theoretical basis
of the common law in the eyes of jurists -- and usually applied even to
the legislated "statute" law -- was that every legal opinion (or
statute) merely revealed or declared what had always been true.  In that
perspective, the idea of "new" legal rules rather than "old" is rather
awkward and difficult to apply meaningfully in the context of this

Tony B

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