Leigh Buchanan Bienen: Works

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Title: Afterword to Lunatics and Anarchists: Political Homicide in Chicago 
: Leigh B. Bienen, Thomas J. O’Gorman
Publisher: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
Issue: Volume 92, Issues 3-4, pp. 805-807
Description: On the assassination of Mayor Carter Harrison, the trial and failed use of the insanity defense, and execution of his assassin, Eugene J. Prendergast, in Chicago in 1893.

The facts of the case as reported here are confirmed by several independent sources, including copies of original records obtained from the Office of the Clerk of Criminal Court of Cook County, and from other sources. The original records were obtained from the Office of the Clerk of the Criminal Court of Cook County included the following: The case was Case No. 33802, People v. Prendergast, and the jury verdict was filed December 29, 1893. The records include the original typed instructions on the law to the jury, including the instructions on the imposition of the penalty of death and the instructions on the insanity defense. The original record includes the signed verdict sheet finding the defendant guilty of murder and fixing the sentence at death, signed by the twelve jurors and certified by John C. Schubert, Clerk

The record also includes several medical opinions and notes. One note on medical stationery dated December 15, 1893, directed to the State’s Attorney Jacob Kern, by Dr. Brower finds the defendant: “insane (medically) and that the form of insanity if paranoia – As to his legal insanity, which as I understand it, is about synonymous with responsibility, I have some doubt-because of insufficient information as to family & personal history.” The cover note attached to this medical note says: “Dr. Browen [sic] say PEJP is ‘insane.’ His opinion left out of discussion.”

The record also included an affidavit of Dr. A.J. Baxter, a physician and surgeon, stating that he was empowered and authorized by the State’s Attorney, Jacob J. Kern to ‘secure medical experts to testify in the case of the People v. Prendergast in regard to said Prendergast’s mental condition. This affiant further states that among said physicians he conversed with Daniel R. Brower, the physician who testified on behalf of the defendant in this case … This affiant further states that at a meeting held at his office a few days before the defense rested their case [one of two named doctors] said that he regarded Prendergast as a paranoiac, but that he knew the difference between right and wrong and that he had the power of doing or not doing the act, if he had felt so disposed, for which he was being tried.” The second named doctor substantially concurred. “This affiant further states that he never instructed either [named doctor] that their services would not be needed in behalf of the people, but this affiant is informed and believes the fact to be that the state would have put [the two doctors] on the stand, had it not been for the defense subpoenaing them and … [upon one doctor’s] refusal to testify without being paid by the defense. …”



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