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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

12                                                  MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

(4) Questions put by the Judge, Juror, or Assessor.  The Judge, juror
or assessor may question the witness at any stage to clear up doubtful points.

'

Y MEDICAL EVIDENCE
Medical evidence given befora a court of law is of two forms, viz.  (1)
documentary and (2) oral or parole.

j  (1) Documentary Evidence.  This includes

(a)  Medical Certificates.

(b)  Medico-legal Reports.

(c)  Dying Declarations.

(a)  Medical Certificates. These are the simplest forms of documentary
evidence, and generally refer to ill-health, unsoundness of mind, death, etc.
These certificates should not be given lightly or carelessly, but with a due
sense of responsibility for the opinion expressed in them.   They are not
accepted in a court of law unless they are granted by a duly qualified medical
practitioner registered under the Provincial Medical Council Act.

In giving a certificate of ill-health a medical practitioner should mention
the exact nature of the illness, and preferably should take, at the bottom of
the certificate, the thumb-mark impression"' or signature of the individual to
whom -it- refers. -          ~ " ~

A medical practitioner should remember that, on the occurrence of the
death of a person whom he has been attending during his last illness, he is
legally bound to give a certificate stating, " to the best of his knowledge and
belief", the cause of death, for which he is not allowed to charge a fee.
The granting of such a certificate is not to be delayed, even if the fee for
attending the patient during his lifetime is not paid. The medical practi-
tioner may subsequently sue the legal heirs of the deceased for his dues if
he so desires. However, he must decline to give a certificate, if he is not sure
of the cause of death, or if he has the least suspicion of foul play. In
such a case the proper course for him is to report at once to the police
authorities, before the body is removed for cremation or 'burial.

Civil Surgeons and superior medical officers are often called upon to
countersign death certificates, but they should not do so without inspecting
the body. From the non-observance of such a precaution it has sometimes
happened that a medical officer has been placed in an awkward position in
a court of law.

(b)  Medico-legal Reports.  These are the documents prepared by the
medical officer in obedience to a demand by an authorized police-officer or a
Magistrate, and are referred to chiefly in criminal cases relating to assault,
rage^jiui^er, poisoning, etc.   These reports consisTfol: two parts, viz. the
facts observeoTon examination-, aaaclr the opinion or the inference drawn from
the iacts.

In order that they may be admitted as exhibits in evidence, these reports
should be written up by the medical officer at thB time the examination was
made or immediately afterwards. They form the chief documents in judicial
inquiries and are likely to pass from the lower to the higher courts, as well
as to be placed in the hands of pleaders ; hence the utmost care should be
used in preparing them. No exaggerated terms, superlatives, or ejHtijfe
expressing one's^ .feelings ^shqulc[ be used. For instance, one should never
say that " extensive damage to the "skull and brain was the result of a
particularly brutal, murderous assault" or "the deceased was evidently sub-
jected to a particularly murderous attack in which throttling was also
indulged in". '-"---

After noting the facts, the opinion should be expressed briefly and to
the point. The medical officer must remember that he should always base