Case Study of Valentine Shortis


Francis Valentine Cuthburt Shortis originated from a wealthy Irish relatives that had established a successful business in cattle coping. As an only child, Shortis was spoiled by his mom, however, his dad thought that his child needed to discover how to be independent. On September 1893, eighteen years older Shortis was sailed to Canada only on the S.S Laurentian to learn those values (Friedland, 1986, p. 3). After almost year Shortis had arrived in Montreal, his mom visited for per month to greatly help her son set up a life in Canada. Shortis was employed to be a non-public secretary to Louis Simpson, the overall manager of the Montreal Cotton Organization for a trial of 8 weeks (Friedland, 1986, p. 4). However, Simpson did not renew Shortis’ agreement as he performed inadequate work and connected with a family of a rival provider. While working at the company, Shortis linked himself with Millie Anderson and her youthful brother Jack. The Anderson family group had conflicts with Simpson and the cotton organization as they had their own organization the Anderson Foundry (Friedland,1986, p. 4). After being terminated from the company Shortis continued to start to see the Anderson family.

In 1895 March 1st, Shortis had remaining the Anderson residence around ten o’clock in the evening and went to the Montreal Cotton Firm to visit his old co-employees (Friedland, 1986, p. 4-5). Particularly upon this night, four workmen had been unloading and packing $12,000 into pay packets in an workplace that was to be distributed to the employees the next payday (Friedland, 1986, p. 5). As the workmen visited put the amount of money in the vault, Shortis grabbed the company revolver he knew about from the office drawer shooting among the workers, Hugh Wilson (Friedland, 1986, p. 5). As the additional workmen stood in shock, another worker, John Loy, tried to require a doctor but Shortis right away shot and killed him (Friedland, 1986, p. 5). The additional two workmen, John Lowe and Arthur Leboeuf, sheltered themselves within the vault closing the door behind them. Wilson tried to flee into the factory, but had been observed by Shortis and was shot in the top (Friedland, 1986, p. 6). Shortis made his way back to the different workmen who were trapped in the vault, but before executing his method to begin a fire and smoking cigarettes them out, Shortis encountered the night watchman and instantly shot and killed him (Friedland, 1986, p. 6). However, unfamiliar to Shortis, Wilson possessed miraculously survived the gunshot in the head and went on to appear the alarm in the engine place alerting the authorities (Friedland, 1986, p. 6). As authorities attained the picture of the crime, Shortis had ideas for persuasive speech promptly surrendered and was charged with two accounts of murder.

Speculation of the criminal offense was difficult to identify as Shortis’ motivations were unclear. Many believed the motive of the criminal offense was robbery, but others had various other theories that engaged Millie Anderson and her youthful brother Jack. Specifically, theorizing the crime as a revenge plot against Louis Simpson and as speculated robbery, but the money could have been employed by Shortis to flee town with Millie because they had formed an enchanting relationship at the time (Friedland, 1986, p.7). Although the motives of why Shortis dedicated the crime are unfamiliar, two judges in various districts were assigned to the case as the location of the trial happened an issue. The defence had made a petition to really have the trial occur Montreal to as they believed that Shortis wouldn’t normally turabian cover page have a fair trial within the same district he had committed the criminal offense (Friedland, 1986, p. 18). Nevertheless, the petition was denied and the trial location was not altered, Judge Michel Mathieu of the Quebec Superior Court assigned to the trial (Friedland, 1986, p. 31).

Summary of the Prosecution

As the trial started, Donald Macmaster and Charles Laurendeau, a Beauharnois lawyer or attorney, would signify the Crown (Friedland, 1986, p.32). Throughout the period of the trial, the Crown was motivated to get rid of the defence’s insanity plea, nevertheless, Judge Mathieu allowed the plea to get presented in courtroom (Friedland, 1986, p. 35). In the beginning address, Macmaster argues that determining whether a person is “insane” is solely predicated on a person’s perception of their moral certainty that the accused was on wrongful brain when committing the crime (Friedland, 1986, p. 37-38). Concluding his opening argument, Macmaster notes that if the jury does excuse Shortis of being insane, determining the duration of his sentence is usually uncertain as Macmaster says that “there is absolutely no law that he will be confined forever” (Friedland, 1986, p.38). Introducing the Crown’s earliest witness, Macmaster provides John Lowe as he recounts the occasions that happened the night of the crime. Another witness brought in was Hugh Wilson. It had been the very first time Wilson had offered a affirmation about the criminal offense as he was recovering from his injuries during the inquest and preliminary hearing (Friedland, 1986, p.44). Wilson recounted the nights of the function from his point of view as Shortis shot at him several times before escaping and alerting the authorities. Additional witnesses were called such as Dr. Sutherland, who got at first tended to Wilson’s accidental injuries and first confronted Shortis with another workman, and Ernst McVicar, a worker of the mill who acquired proof premeditation as Shortis discussed topics of robbing the business and the coach that contained the money that was to come to be sent to the mill company (Friedland, 1986, p. 45).

Summary of the Defence

Representing the defence was Henri St. Pierre, J.N Greenshields, and George Foster, a solicitor (Friedland, 1986, p.14). The data offered by the defence was manufactured within two days; no opening statements were made and the defence shown their first evidence which was of the Irish commission that consisted of 575 handwritten web pages of statements made by forty-eight witnesses, however, simply two of the forty-eight witnesses were listened to (Friedland, 1986, p.47). Robert Dobbin, the first witness, was the defendant’s father’s solicitor. Learning Shortis as a kid for eight or nine years, Dobbin had viewed a few incidents concerning Shortis where he had the little boy putting out a sizable fire that he had suspected that he began it himself (Friedland, 1986, p.47). The next witness, John Ryan, a classmate of Shortis experienced deemed him a “hot-tempered fool”, recalling the time he previously seen Shortis acting just like a “madman” hitting a worker with a heavy stick when he did not get out of the way, often having headaches, and a fascination for guns (Friedland, 1986, p.47). Other witnesses enhanced the defense’s insanity plea, as Richard Malone, a worker of the defendant’s dad, informed of how Shortis mistreated some of the cattle and found satisfaction in torturing the pets or animals as he stuck pitchforks in the cattle (Friedland, 1986, p.48). The main piece of facts the defence presented were the testimonies of the defence’s psychiatrists. Each of the four psychiatrists backed the defence’s insanity plea as they had very similar conclusions that Valentine Shortis had not been of sound mind. One of many psychiatrists, James V. Anglin, figured Shortis was mentally ill from data such as for example incoherent speech, passions in subjects such as fatalism and reincarnation, delusions, and auditory and visible hallucinations (Friedland, 1986, p.60).


With the jury going to make a decision the verdict of the trial, both defence and the Crown offered their closing arguments, where in fact the defence primarily focused on putting strain on the jurors making them experience accountable for their decisions as Gre9enshields’ opening terms were “Thou shalt certainly not kill” (Friedland, 1986, p.90). Whereas the Crown concentrated on disproving the defence’s insanity plea, finding a contradiction in one of the defence’s psychiatrists, Dr. Clarke’s testimony, as Macmaster observed Dr. Clarke had employed his explanation of a criminal to spell it out the term moral imbecile, used to spell it out Shortis (Friedland, 1986, p.105). On 3 November 1895, the jury observed Valentine Shortis guilty of the murders and was sentenced to death by hanging on 3 January 1896 (Friedland, 1986, p.115-117). Although the sentence was to get carried out, Greenshields made a statement stating, “(T)he only thing we have now intend doing is certainly to petition the Minister if Justice for commutation of sentence from the death penalty to imprisonment forever” (Friedland, 1986, p.119). Prior to the sentence was completed, George Foster, the defence’s solicitor, visited present the petition in Ottawa to the minister of justice, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper (Friedland, 1986, p.122). A cabinet meeting happened to discuss the petition of Valentine Shortis, a vote was to be produced from ten cabinet users on whether to sentence was to come to be execution or existence in prison (Friedland, 1986, p. 148). The vote was undecided as each side had five votes, therefore another vote was to end up being held with additional cabinet associates voting (Friedland, 1986, p. 149). Speculation of influencing cabinet members to really have the petition be approved had been imagined as each cabinet member was connected with those who were associated with wanting Shortis to be given a life sentence. Persons such as for example Shortis’ parents because they may include bribed cabinet customers in election financing, and Judge Mathieu, the trial judge, whose brother-in-law was one of the cabinet members may contain influenced his vote as Mathieu was towards the petition (Friedland, 1986, p.150-151). On 31st December 1895, the petition was approved and was declared that Valentine Shortis was to provide a life sentence in St Vincent de Paul Penitentiary (Friedland, 1986, p.173).


In reviewing the circumstance of Valentine Shortis, I believe that justice was served. In today’s society, if a circumstance were to be raised under an insanity the jurors and the ones in court would be more understanding of the conditions of the case. Nevertheless, regarding Shortis, the plea of insanity was questioned throughout the trial even though evidence of mental illness was provided by witnesses and psychiatrists. Perhaps due to the historical time period, the utilization of psychology in court had not been acknowledged as if it’s to be offered in court today as they may have thought that if a criminal offense were committed the average person was sane and understood of their activities.


Friedland, M. L. (1986). The case of Valentine Shortis: a true story of crime and politics in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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