Friday, September 14, 2012

Maher v. People case brief

Maher v. People case brief summary
10 Mich. 212

SYNOPSIS: Defendant appealed the judgment of the Houghton District Court (Michigan), which convicted him of assault with intent to commit murder.

OVERVIEW: Defendant shot the victim 30 minutes after defendant believed the victim had adulterous intercourse with defendant's wife. The trial court refused to admit evidence of the alleged adultery.

The court reversed and remanded for a new trial because the admission of the evidence of the adultery would have gone to show the state of mind of defendant, and the question as to whether 30 minutes was a sufficient cooling off period after such a provocation was a proper question for the jury to consider in determining whether the offence, if successful, would have been murder or manslaughter.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the conviction and remanded the case for new trial because the trial court excluded evidence relevant to defendant's state of mind at the time of the offense.


∆ offered evidence showing that he saw his wife and Hunt go into the woods ½ hour before assault. When they came out he followed Hunt into a saloon and attacked him, on the way someone told him that Hunt and his wife had sex the day before. The evidence was rejected by the court.

If a killing, though intentional, is committed in the heat of passion produced by a reasonable provocation before a reasonable time has lapsed for the passion to cool and is the result of temporary excitement rather than one’s personal depravity, it is manslaughter not murder.

Dissent: To reduce a homicide to manslaughter the provocation must have occurred in the ∆s presence.
-Suspicion alone should not be adequate

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