Friday, November 15, 2013

Commonwealth v. Donahue case brief

Commonwealth v. Donahue case brief summary
20 N.E. 171 (1889)

Defendant was indicted for robbery. A jury in a Massachusetts trial court found defendant guilty of assault. Defendant filed exceptions, and sought review.

The victim visited defendant's home, looking for payment of a debt. Defendant offered defendant a sum slightly less than what was owed, or the return of goods. The victim took the money, then demanded the balance. Defendant assaulted the victim in an attempt to recover the funds.

  • On appeal, the court found that ancient rules warranted defendant the right to use reasonable force, if necessary, in order to recover his property. 
  • The court found that defendant rightfully believed that he was defrauded when the victim took the money, and then demanded the balance, which was not part of the bargain. 
  • In sustaining defendant's exceptions, the court held that defendant was entitled to a jury instruction that required fact finders to determine whether the force employed was excessive under the circumstances.

The court sustained defendant's exceptions.

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