Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Curtis case brief

People v. Curtis case brief summary
18 N.W. 385 (1884)

Defendant challenged a decision from the Cass County Circuit Court (Michigan), which convicted defendant of murder in the second degree.

Defendant and many others attended a celebration. Defendant's brother was in the company of one of the victim's brothers. After the celebration ended, defendant's brother and one of the victim's brothers got into an altercation. The victim's brother had a knife, which according to some of the witnesses he used in a threatening manner towards defendant's brother. The victim then threw a stone at defendant's brother. The victim allegedly was threatening him further when he was shot and killed. Defendant fired a revolver. Several witnesses testified to another shot about the same time, which was not fired by defendant.


  • On appeal, the court held that: 
  • (1) the trial court erred in only allowing inquiry into defendant's conduct on the day in question because defendant had just as much a right to inquire into the conduct of the victim and the victim's brother's on the day in question; 
  • (2) the trial court erred in charging as a matter of law that the use of a deadly weapon by defendant was a strong circumstance tending to show malice; and 
  • (3) the trial court erred in charging that if defendant's brother was in fault at all, then defendant was not justified in his actions.

The court reversed defendant's conviction of murder in the second degree. The court ordered a new trial. The court stated defendant was to be remanded to the custody of the sheriff, and was to be allowed bail if he desired it, in a moderate amount.

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