Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Medical experts: Investigation of Insanity by Juries   By:

Book cover

First Page:

Medical Experts.


Read before the Santa Clara Medical Society, SEPTEMBER 4, 1877.

By W. S. THORNE, M. D.


Medical Experts.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Santa Clara Medical Society:

In the almost infinite variety of human affairs there are possibly none more complex than those which are involved in adjusting the legal relations of the insane. And, certainly, no duty which the medical man is called to perform so tries his patience or tests his knowledge and his experience as the character of medical witness in Judicial investigations.

The points to which I particularly desire to call your attention to night are the following, to wit:

First. The present uncertain position occupied by medical experts in California Courts.

Second. The provision in our civil code which enables a person, who has been declared insane before a commission of lunacy, to demand a Judicial investigation before a Jury.

My own limited capacity, Mr. President, and the presence here to night of older and more experienced members of the profession admonish me that my theme is ill chosen, and whilst I feel that my effort is properly prefaced by an apology, I am likewise impressed with the conviction, that it is my duty and privilege to raise my voice, feeble though it be, against abuses which are alike derogatory to our profession and an injustice to society.

It is a confession no less mortifying than true, that medical experts, in California Courts, have no legal rights, and their testimony elicits neither respectable consideration nor carries with it authoritative weight. I assume these premises to be true, and if there is a medical man within the sound of my voice, whose experience as a legal expert in this State has been more fortunate, I shall unhesitatingly pronounce his case anomalous. Admitting then my hypothesis, let us inquire, if so we may, wherein lie the evils of which we speak and if possible their remedy.

Any person holding a diploma from a reputable school of medicine and engaged in the active practice of his profession, is in law an expert. In this capacity he may be summoned at any moment to testify to questions of fact, hypothetical or theoretical. The questions thus propounded to the medical witness are frequently complex in their nature, involve a wide range of inquiry, and necessitate on his part a just discrimination, extensive knowledge and large experience. Again, medical science is ever varying; it may be likened to an uncertain stream that shifts its banks restless and aggressive, the land marks change, but the river's course is ever onward. Principles like the rocks left in its ancient bed, alone remain to mark its passage and reveal its work; accepted truths of to day may be un truths to morrow. Errors have been enunciated by Philosophers, have been sanctified by the Church, and promulgated by Priests, but have finally been overtaken by this same resistless stream of progress, and by it have been swept out of the world. Even so to day our science is changing its foundation stones. Insanity is but just emerging from a complex labyrinth of metaphysical obscurities, and has taken its place in pathology as a physical disease. Physiological Chemistry has scarcely conned its alphabet, and its unknown literature, pregnant with marvelous truths has yet to unfold its treasures to us. Equally unexplored is the vast field embraced in the ætiology of diseases, the character of morbid germs and their mode of entry into the economy. Organic Chemistry is filling our libraries with its new facts and experiments. The imperative demand therefore of the medical expert is constant study. The exigencies of the position require, in justice to the profession, a thorough acquaintance with all that is old, and an equal familiarity with all that is new. The range of judicial inquiry often embraces the entire field of medical and surgical knowledge, as well as all their collateral branches... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books