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Observers, advisers, or authorities? Experts, juries and criminal responsibility in historical perspective

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This article uses nineteenth-century cases and medico-legal writings to illustrate three conceptions of the role of the psychiatric expert in criminal trials, as 'observer', 'adviser', or 'authority'. The nineteenth-century courts in England and Scotland predominantly favoured the 'adviser' role, but since 1957 the case-law on diminished responsibility has tended to elevate the expert to the position of authority. While acknowledging the force of the nineteenth-century arguments in favour of expert authority, the article concludes that the adviser role creates a more satisfactory relationship between expert and jury.
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Keywords: DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY; EXPERT EVIDENCE; HISTORY; INSANITY DEFENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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