Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Attorney General for Jersey v. Holley case brief

Attorney General for Jersey v. Holley
Privy Council England - 2005
Partial defense of provocation = concession to human frailty.
Section 3 of Homicide Act:
Where on a charge of murder there is evidence on which the jury can find that the person charged was provoked (whether by things done or by things said or by both together) to lose his self-control, the question is whether the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man do as he did shall be left to be determined by the jury; and in determining that question the jury shall take into account everything both done and said according to the effect, which, in their opinion, it would have on a reasonable man.

Defense of Provocation

1. The defendant was provoked into losing his self-control (all probative evidence is admissible).
2. Whether the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man do as he did taking into account everything both done and said according to the effect it would have on a reasonable man.
a) Assessment of gravity of the provocation.
b) Application of the external standard of self-control: whether the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man do as he did.
-Once words could amount to provocation, the gravity of provocation could depend upon the particular characteristics or circumstances of the person to whom a taunt of insult is addressed.
-The powers of self-control vary according to their age and, more doubtfully, their sex.

Morgan Smith

-The standard of self-control required is not the consistent standard of a person having and exercising ordinary self-control The required standard is more flexible. The jury should apply the standard of control to be expected from the particular individual. The jury must ask themselves “whether the defendant exercised the degree of self-control to be expected of someone in his situation.”


-The defendant and the deceased met in the morning, went drinking at a local pub, spent an hour drinking/arguing.
-Def. left to go chop wood, Decedent continued drinking at pub and returned at 5:15pm.
-Def. drank 11 can of beer, 3 pints of beer/lager.
-Deceased was drunk according to Def. She entered, said she had sex with another man He pick up axe, to go chop wood, she said “you haven’t got the guts”, Def. struck her 7-8 times.

-Pleaded not guilty to charge or murder, but convicted of murder. He admitted killing deceased, only issue was that of provocation.
-Appealed, issue was provocation, ordered a retrial. Found guilty of murder.
-Appealed again, manslaughter verdict.


Was there sufficient provocation in regards to the defendant being drunk to reduce his charge from murder to manslaughter?

-Court of appeals approach in regards to Morgan Smith was wrong.

-Evidence that def. was suffering from chronic alcoholism was not a matter to be taken into account by the jury.


In ordinary course, the conclusion would mean that he would be charged of murder, not manslaughter.

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