Friday, November 15, 2013

Cooper v. United States case brief

Cooper v. United States case brief summary
512 A.2d 1002 (1986)

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia entered judgment upon a jury verdict convicting defendant of voluntary manslaughter while armed, D.C. Code Ann. §§ 22-2405, 22-3202, and carrying a pistol without a license, D.C. Code Ann. § 22-3204. Defendant appealed.

Defendant and his brother lived with their mother. The brother unexpectedly left home for ten days and subsequently returned without stating where he had been. On the day of the brother's return, defendant returned from work carrying a pistol. Defendant and the brother began to quarrel, the quarrel escalated, and the brother hit defendant in the head with a small radio. After the mother ran upstairs to call for help, she heard a sound. When the mother went back downstairs, she saw the brother lying on the floor, and defendant stated that he had shot the brother.


  • On appeal, defendant argued that the trial judge erred when he refused to instruct the jury that defendant had an unqualified right to stand his ground in the face of an attack in his home and instead gave the standard instruction on the use of deadly force in self-defense. 
  • The appellate court rejected this contention and affirmed defendant's convictions. 
  • Because defendant was attacked in his home by a co-occupant, he was not entitled to an instruction that he had no duty whatsoever to retreat.

The court affirmed the trial court's judgment convicting defendant of voluntary manslaughter while armed and carrying a pistol without a license.

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