Felo de se and temporary insanity
December 28, 2010 10:34 AM Subscribe
In the United States in the 1870s and 1880s, what would have been the practical difference between a suicide being adjudged committed during a fit of temporary insanity, and having it be part, say, of a planned suicide pact?
posted by LucretiusJones to law & government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been hunting this up with little success. In the 19th Century, it was common for coroner's juries to come in with a verdict of "temporary insanity" in almost all cases involving suicide. In Britain, until particular reforms were passed, this seems to have been designed to make sure people weren't classified as "felo de se" -- felons against themselves-- and therefore get around restrictions on the burial of suicides and forfeiture laws that would have claimed their property for the crown.
I can't find, however, that US law ever had forfeiture rules. So what is the purpose of ruling "temporary insanity"? Is it just to allow a religious burial? What would the difference in stigma be to the family?
I suppose I'm interested in Ohio law, if there are state differences.