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Allen v. United States

164 U.S. 492 (1896)

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Allen v. United States

United States Supreme Court

164 U.S. 492 (1896)

Facts

Allen (defendant) was tried for murder by the United States government (plaintiff). During Allen’s trial, the jury had difficulty reaching a verdict and asked the court for further instructions. The jury received lengthy additional instructions stating that it was unlikely that individual jurors would be absolutely certain about the appropriate verdict and that although each individual juror must agree with the ultimate verdict, they had an obligation to listen open-mindedly to each other’s arguments. The jurors were further instructed that, should the majority reach a conclusion, dissenting jurors should question the reasonableness of their own positions because a majority of equally honest, intelligent jurors had reached the opposite conclusion. After further deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict, and Allen was sentenced to death. Allen appealed his conviction, arguing that the jury instructions had been improper.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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