The Case of Valentine Shortis

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Before the eighteenth century it was very common for a guilty person to try to escape harsh punishment under the plea of impulsive insanity after committing a crime. However, by the early eighteenth century it was more difficult to prove that an individual was insane after committing a vicious crime. The case of Francis Valentine Shortis was one of such cases. His lawyers had a very difficult case on their hands and the only option they felt could help their client was to use the insanity defence. Their attempt was to persuade the twelve men jury that at the time of this dreadful crime, Shortis was in fact not mentally responsible and therefore suffering from a disease of the mind. There was an extensive amounts of evidence provided from the crown about Shortis’ mental capacity that pointed toward him being a sane man, challenging the very movement of the defence case. The crown had a reasonable amount of evidence presented by Shortis' coworkers, former friends and neighbours to support their argument that Shortis was not insane and in fact, acted very intelligently. There are no doubts that Shortis did commit some very bad things during his childhood in Ireland that would make an individual assume that he must be insane. On the contrary, some of his former neighbours found Shortis to be an ordinary boy who was playful and very mischievous growing up. According to Friedland (1986), the crown (Macmaster) stated that “he committed many eccentric, rash and even reckless acts in Ireland, but he never was arrested there or confined in a Lunatic Asylum” (p.27). One of the psychiatrists Dr. Buck during the trial testify that he did not agreed with the other psychiatrists about Shortis’ state of mind at the time of the killing. He told... ... middle of paper ... which, if it existed, would justify or excuse his act” (Friedland, 1986, p.109). Based on the evidence and testimonials presented in the case of Valentine Shortis, there is no mistake that Shortis is indeed a sane person who committed a brutal crime. Evidence presented by the crown indicated that Shortis was sane and did know that the act he committed was wrong. Shortis tried to cover up any evidence that he had shared with his friends about the killing and robbery at the mill. He also had spoken with Millie Anderson and her brother Jack about providing him with an alibi. This shows that Shortis knew it was wrong to commit such a crime and therefore, requested an alibi as a way to be excluded as a possible suspect. Consequently, according Canada’s criminal code Francis Valentine Shortis is not insane and therefore guilty of the brutal murder of his coworkers.

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