Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Dumlao case brief

State v. Dumlao case brief summary
715 P.2d 822 (1986)

Defendant appealed the decision of the First Circuit Court (Hawaii), which was entered on a verdict convicting him of murder. Defendant argued that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on manslaughter under Haw. Rev. Stat. § 707-702(2) (1976).

Defendant was convicted of murder for killing his mother-in-law.


  • On appeal, the court reversed, finding that the trial court erred in refusing to give his requested instruction on manslaughter because there was sufficient evidence that he was acting under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation. 
  • The court noted that § 707-702(2) required that the reasonableness of the explanation be considered from defendant's subjective viewpoint, in contrast to the commonly used objective reasonable person standard. 
  • The court ruled that the extreme emotional disturbance defense was similar to the "heat of passion" defense, but was not negated by the passage of time between the provocation and the act. 
  • The court concluded that evidence that defendant suffered from a paranoid personality disorder, causing him to have irrational jealousy and unwarranted suspicions about his wife's faithfulness, was sufficient to warrant the instruction and to leave the jury to weigh that evidence, no matter how weak, inconclusive, or unsatisfactory, in deciding whether to convict him of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded the case for a new trial.

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