In Cold Blood

Why wasn't Dr. Jones allowed to give his testimony during the trial?

Dr. Jones is the psychiatrist. He was asked did Dick know right from wrong. He said no. Did Perry? Yes. But he was not allowed to give further details. Why is that? Why does Capote include this record?

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Confined as he was by the M’Naghten Rule (“the usual definitions”), a formula quite color-blind to any gradations between black and white, Dr. Jones was impotent to answer otherwise. But of course the response was a letdown for Hickock’s attorney, who hopelessly asked, “Can you qualify that answer?”

It was hopeless because though Dr. Jones agreed to elaborate, the prosecution was entitled to object—and did, citing the fact that Kansas law allowed nothing more than a yes or no reply to the pertinent question. The objection was upheld, and the witness dismissed.