Page:Black's Law Dictionary (Second Edition).djvu/644

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INSANITY

tion where insanity is alleged as a defense; a proceeding to defeat a will on the ground of the insanity of the testator; a suit to avoid a contract (including that of marriage) for similar reasons; a proceeding to secure the commitment of a person alleged to be insane to an asylum; a proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator for an alleged lunatic; a plea or proceeding to avoid the effect of the statute of limitations on account of insanity. What might be regarded as insanity in one of such cases would not necessarily be so regarded in another. No definite rule can he laid down which would apply to all cases alike. Snyder v. Snyder. 142 Ill. 60. 31 N. E. 303; Clarke v. Irwin, 63 Neb. 539, 88 N. W. 783. But the following rules or tests for specific cases have been generally accepted and approved:

In criminal law and as a defense to an accusation of crime, insanity means such a perverted and deranged condition of the mental and moral faculties as to render the person incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, or to render him at the time unconscious of the nature of the act he is committing, or such that, though he may be conscious of it and also of its normal quality, so as to know that the act in question is wrong, yet his will or volition has been (otherwise than voluntarily) so completely destroyed that his actions are not subject to it but are beyond his control. Or, as otherwise stated, insanity is such a state of mental derangement that the subject is incompetent of having a criminal intent, or incapable of so controlling his will as to avoid doing the act in question. Davis v. U. S., 165 U. S. 373, 17 Sup. Ct. 360, 41 L. Ed. 750 , Doherty v. State, 73 Vt. 380, 50 Atl. 1113; Butler V. State, 102 Wis. 364. 78 N. W. 590; Rather v. State, 25 Tex. App. 623, 9 S. W. 69; Lowe v. State. 118 Wis. 641. 96 N. W. 424; Genz V. State, 59 N. J. Law. 488, 37 Atl. 69, 59 Am. St Rep. 619; In re Guiteau (D. C.) 10 Fed. 164; People v. Finley. 38 Mich. 482: People v. Hoin, 62 Cal. 120, 45 Am. Rep. 651; Carr v. State, 96 Ga. 284, 22 S. E. 570; Wilcox v. State, 94 Tenn. 106. 28 S. W. 312; State v. Holloway, 156 Mo. 222. 56 S. W. 734; Hotema v. U. S., 136 U. S. 413, 22 Sup. Ct. 895. 46 L. Ed. 1225.

Testamentary capacity includes an intelligent understanding of the testator‘s property, its extent and items, and of the nature of the act he is about to perform, together with a clear understanding and purpose as to the manner of its distribution and the persons who are to receive it. Lacking these, he is not mentally competent. The presence of insane delusions is not inconsistent with testamentary capacity, if they are of such a nature that they cannot reasonably be supposed to have affected the dispositions made by the will; and the same is true of the various forms of monomania and of all kinds of eccentricity and personal idiosyncrasy. But imbecility, senile dementia, and all


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forms of systematized mania which affect the understanding and judgment generally disable the patient from making a valid will. See Harrison v. Rowan, 3 Wash. C. G. 585, Fed. Cas. No. 6,141; Smee v. Smee. 5 Prob. Div. 84; Banks v. Goodfellow. 39 Law J. R., Q. B., 248; Wilson v. Mitchell. 101 Pa. 495; Whitney v. Twombly, 136 Mass. 147; Lowder v. Lowder, 58 Ind. 540; In re Haibert‘s Will. 15 Misc. Rep. 308, 37 N. Y. Supp. 757. Dan v. Vancleve, 5 N. J. Law, 660.

As a ground for avoiding or annulling a contract or conveyance, insanity does not mean a total deprivation of reason, but an inability, from defect of perception, memory, and judgment, to do the act in question or to understand its nature and consequences. Frazer v. Frazer. 2 Del. Ch 260. The insanity must have entered into and induced the particular contract or conveyance; it must appear that it was not the act of the free and untrammeled mind, and that on account of the diseased condition of the mind the person entered into a contract or made a conveyance which he would not have made if he had been in the possession of his reason. Dewey v. Allgire. 37 Neb. 6. 55 N. W. 276, 40 Am. St. Rep. 468; Dennett v. Dennett, 44 N. H. 537. 84 Am. Dec. 97. Insanity sufficient to justify the annulment of a marriage means such a want of understanding at the time of the marriage as to render the party incapable of assenting to the contract of marriage. The morbid propensity to steal, called "kleptomania," does not answer this description. Lewis v. Lewis, 44 Minn. 124, 46 N. W. 323, 9 L. R. A. 505. 20 Am. St Rep. 559.

As a ground for restraining the personal liberty of the patient, it may be said in general that the form of insanity from which he suffers should be such as to make his going at large a source of danger to himself or to others, though this matter is largely regulated by statute, and in many places the law permits the commitment to insane asylums and hospitals of persons whose insanity does not manifest itself in homicidal or other destructive forms of mania, but who are incapable of caring for themselves and their property or who are simply fit subjects for treatment in hospitals and other institutions specially designed for the care of such patients. See, for example, Gen. St. Kan. 1901, § 6570.

To constitute insanity such as will authorize the appointment of a guardian or conservator for the patient, there must lie such a deprivation of reason and judgment as to render him incapable of understanding and acting with discretion in the ordinary affairs of life; a want of sufficient mental capacity to transact ordinary business and to take care of and manage his property and affairs. See Snyder v. Snyder. 142 Ill. 60. 31 N. E. 303; In re Wetmore's Guardianship, 6 Wash. 271, 33 Pac. 615.

Insanity as a plea or proceeding to avoid

the effect of the statute of limitations means