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Maher v. People

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Criminal Law Keyed to Kadish

Citation. 22 Ill.10 Mich. 212 (1862)

Brief Fact Summary. Defendant Maher was charged for assault with the intent to murder after entering a saloon and shooting Patrick Hunt, who he claimed had allegedly had an adulterous intercourse with the defendant’s wife less than an hour before the incident. Evidence offered by Defendant that his wife had had intercourse with the victim was held inadmissible and Defendant appeals.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. In determining whether the provocation is sufficient or reasonable, an objective standard should be used unless the person whose guilt is in question is shown to have some peculiar weakness of the mind that arises from something other than wickedness or cruelty.

Facts. Defendant was charged with assault with the intent to kill and murder. Defendant entered a saloon and shot the victim, Patrick Hunt, resulting in a non-fatal wound. At trial, Defendant offered evidence to show that the victim had engaged in adulterous intercourse with Defendant’s wife less than an hour before the assault. The trial court ruled this evidence inadmissible and convicted Defendant of assault with the intent to murder. Defendant appeals on the grounds that the evidence was improperly rejected as is should have been admitted to show that Defendant was adequately provoked and should not have been found guilty of assault with the intent to murder, but only of assault and battery.

Issue. Did the Trial Court err in rejecting Defendant’s evidence? In other words, was Defendant’s assumption that the victim had slept with his wife an hour before the assault adequate provocation to give a homicide — or in this case an attempted homicide -the character of manslaughter?

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