Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 16,500+ case briefs...

Commonwealth v. Donahue

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
20 N.E. 171 (1889)


Donahue (defendant) purchased $21.55 worth of clothes from Mitchelman. However, when Mitchelman went to Donahue’s house to collect the money, an argument arose about the bill. Donahue collected the clothes and placed them in a chair and put $20 on a table and then told Mitchelman that he could either have the clothes or the $20. Mitchelman took the money and told Donahue that he owed him $1.55. Donahue demanded his money back and Mitchelman refused. Donahue attacked Mitchelman, threw him to the ground, and began choking him until Mitchelman gave him his wallet containing $29. Donahue was charged with robbery and assault. At trial, Donahue’s counsel denied that Donahue received the wallet and instead, claimed that Donahue had the right to use force to recover his own money from Mitchelman. The trial court instructed the jury that if Donahue choked or otherwise assaulted Mitchelman, then Donahue was guilty of assault, even if he used force to retrieve money from Mitchelman that Donahue believed was his own. Donahue was found guilty of assault and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 409,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 16,500 briefs, keyed to 223 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial