Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Chevalier case brief

People v. Chevalier case brief summary
544 N.E.2d 942 (1989)

In a consolidated action, the state appealed the reversal by the Appellate Court for the Second District (Illinois) of the judgments of the circuit court, which found defendants guilty of murder. The state argued that the appellate court's reversal and remand for a new trial was erroneous. The state claimed that provocation by defendants' victims was not legally adequate to reduce defendants' convictions from murder to voluntary manslaughter.

Both defendants shot and killed their wives after arguments during which their wives admitted marital infidelity. Defendants were convicted of murder. Defendants' convictions were reversed on appeal. The state appealed.

  • The court reversed and reinstated the murder convictions and held that the appellate court relied on an incorrect statement of Illinois law when it found that there was an exception to the general rule that a verbal communication of adultery was insufficient provocation to justify a voluntary manslaughter instruction. 
  • Only the discovery of parties in the act of adultery, or immediately before or after the act, sufficed as provocation. 
  • As a matter of law, the provocation claimed was insufficient to reduce the homicides from murder to voluntary manslaughter. 
  • One defendant's claim that the testimony of his wife's attorney was improperly admitted was waived because the one defendant failed to include the claim in his post-trial motion. 
  • However, the admission of the hearsay statements that he had threatened his wife was harmless error.

The court reversed the judgments of the appellate court, which had reversed and remanded defendants' murder convictions, and it reinstated the convictions. One defendant's objections to hearsay testimony were waived.

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