1836 R v Pritchard

Fitness to Plead and Stand Trial.

The defendant was deaf, without speech and was learning disabled, being unable to understand and participate in the legal process; the Judge ruled in this case that he could not and this formed the basis of mental disorder being taken into account in an individual’s ability to participate effectively in a case against  them.

“There are three points to be enquired into:- first, whether the prisoner is mute of malice or not; secondly, whether he can plead to the indictment or not; thirdly, whether he is of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings in the trial so as to make a proper defence – to know that he might challenge any of you [the jury] to whom he may object – and to comprehend the details of the evidence, which in a case of this nature must constitute a minute investigation.’”