Commonwealth v. English
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
446 Pa. 161 (1971)
William English (defendant) was arguing with Roosevelt English, who was not related to William, about $10 that Roosevelt owed William. William punched Roosevelt in the face, causing Roosevelt to fall and hit his head on the pavement. William searched through Roosevelt’s wallet while Roosevelt was unconscious but did not find any money. Roosevelt died a few days later as a result of his injuries. William was charged with murder. During the trial, the prosecution maintained that William was guilty of felony murder, because he killed Roosevelt during an attempted robbery. William claimed that he never intended to rob Roosevelt, but only to take back his own property that Roosevelt owed him. William requested the trial judge to instruct the jury about this claim-of-right defense. The trial judge did mention this claimed defense at some points, but eventually instructed the jury that even if Roosevelt owed William money, it would still amount to robbery if William tried to take the money by force. William was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. William filed a motion for a new trial based on error in those instructions to the jury, even though he failed to file an exception to the instructions during the trial. William’s motion for a new trial was granted, and the commonwealth appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bell, C.J.)
Concurrence (Roberts, J.)
Concurrence (Eagen, J.)
What to do next…
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 710,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
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.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 710,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 44,600 briefs, keyed to 983 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.