Packard v. Packard
On 18 January, the jury reached its verdict in seven minutes. "We, the undersigned, Jurors in the case of Mrs. Elizabeth P. W. Packard, alleged to be insane, having heard the evidence . . . are satisfied that [she] is sane." Judge Starr ordered " . . . that Mrs. Elizabeth P. W. Packard be relieved of all restraints incompatible with her condition as a sane woman." Neither the judge nor jury addressed the question of whether, had Mrs. Packard been found insane, Mr. Packard had the right to confine her at home rather than in an asylum.
Mr. and Mrs. Packard remained married but estranged for the remainder of their lives. Elizabeth Packard wrote, lectured, and lobbied on behalf of the rights of women and those alleged to be insane; she was instrumental in changing the commitment laws in four states and in passing a married women's property law in Illinois.
Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Packard v. Packard - Significance, Reverend Packard's Case Against His Wife, Mrs. Packard Defends Her Sanity