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People v. Humphrey

Supreme Court of California
921 P.2d 1 (1996)


Facts

After a full day of arguing and fighting, Humphrey (defendant) shot Albert Hampton in their home. When the police arrived, Humphrey told them that she had shot Hampton because she did not want him to “beat on her” anymore. The day prior to the shooting, Hampton had been drinking and hit Humphrey while they were driving home and continued to hit her after they arrived home. Hampton told Humphrey, “I’ll kill you,” and then he fired a gun. The bullet went through the bedroom window and struck a tree outside. The day of the shooting, Hampton “got drunk,” swore at her, and began hitting her again. Humphrey took the gun and shot him. Hampton later died. Humphrey was charged with murder. At the end of the prosecution’s case, the trial court granted Humphrey’s motion for acquittal of first-degree murder. The court then instructed the jury on second-degree murder and both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The court also instructed on self-defense as to the second-degree murder charge. The court also instructed the jury that it could consider evidence related to the “battered woman’s syndrome” in deciding whether Humphrey actually believed it was necessary to kill in self-defense, but not in deciding whether that belief was reasonable. Humphrey was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter with persona use of a firearm and she appealed. The court of appeal affirmed the conviction and the California Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

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Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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