AuthorRichard D. Schneider
   shocking crime committed by a strange loner. An ac-
quittal because of the accused’s mental disorder. Public outcry at the
verdict. Suspicion about the role of medical experts who testied for
the accused. Demands on judges and legislators to restrict the insanity
defence so that more people do not “get away with murder.”
Such a story could be from more recent headlines including those
arising from the  verdict for Kenneth Li who was found not
criminally responsible for killing and beheading Tim McLean on a
Greyhound bus in Manitoba because of mental disorder and John
Hinckley’s  acquittal on grounds of insanity for his attempted as-
sassination of President Reagan.
is compelling book, however, does not speak directly to those
modern cases. Justice Richard Schneider, a former clinical psychologist
who now presides at Toronto’s widely acclaimed mental health court
as a judge, has chosen a less direct but more fruitful and enriching
path. In this book, Justice Schneider accounts the  case of Daniel
M’Naughten in full and colourful detail. In doing so, Justice Schneider
draws on his wealth of experience with the law and mental disorder.
As most students of the law and psychiatry know, M’Naughten
was acquitted on grounds of insanity for the shooting of Edward
Drummond, the private secretary of the Conservative Prime Minister
Robert Peel. Fewer know the controversy caused by the acquittal. e
public reaction to the verdict was captured by a statement attributed
to Queen Victoria: “How could he have been found not guilty? He did
it, didn’t he?” As will be seen, Queen Victoria had already had some
unhappy encounters with the insanity defence that may have left her
somewhat jaded.

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