People v. Newton
California District Court of Appeal
87 Cal. Rptr. 394 (1970)
Police officers stopped a vehicle driven by Huey P. Newton (defendant) and ordered him to get out. There was conflicting evidence that Newton drew a gun and in the struggle for its possession by Officer Frey, the gun fired and wounded another police officer, Heanes. The struggle continued while Heanes shot at Newton’s midsection. At some point, Newton wrestled the gun away and fired several shots at Frey, killing him. Newton then ran away and later appeared at a hospital emergency room seeking treatment for a gunshot wound. Newton was charged with voluntary manslaughter. At his trial, Newton testified that he had not carried a gun. According to Newton, the struggle began when Officer Frey struck him for protesting the arrest. As Newton stumbled backwards, Frey drew his revolver. Newton testified that he then felt a “sensation like…boiling hot soup had been spilled” on his stomach, heard an “explosion,” and then a “volley of shots.” Newton testified that he remembered “crawling…a moving sensation,” but did not recall how he got to the hospital. Newton stated that he was “unconscious or semiconscious” during this time leading to his appearance at the hospital and only “regained consciousness” at a different hospital. The defense called Dr. Bernard Diamond as an expert who testified that Newton’s recollections were “compatible” with the gunshot he had received. Diamond testified that it was common for a person to go into a reflex shock condition causing loss of consciousness for short periods of time following a gunshot wound that penetrates the abdominal cavity. The trial judge refused to instruct the jury on the subject of unconsciousness as a defense to Newton’s offense. Newton was found guilty and he appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rattigan, 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 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.
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 170,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 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.