Valentine Shortis Verdict Paper
The first assignment will be a 1200-word essay (approximately 4 double-spaced typed pages) that requires you to read the first seven chapters of Martin Friedland’s The Case of Valentine Shortis. This part of the book deals with the arrival of Valentine Shortis to Canada, his perpetration of a bungled hold-up attempt, his arrest for the murder of two payroll clerks, and his subsequent trial in Valleyfield, Quebec. You will be asked to imagine yourself as a member of the jury and determine to the best of the evidence presented whether you would have found Shortis sane (and therefore guilty) or insane (and therefore not guilty). There was no question that Shortis actually committed the crimes, so make sure that you focus exclusively on his mental state during the robbery rather than larger questions of guilt. Similarly, please make sure that your argument is derived only from the evidence presented in court and that you use the legal definition of insanity that was on the books during the 1890s (contemporary ideas on insanity and mental illness should not be used). Your essay will be graded based on how well it is organized and structured; the strength of your arguments; your basic understanding of the material; and the quality of your writing.
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