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People v. Wharton

Supreme Court of California
53 Cal. 3d 522 (1991)


Facts

George Wharton (defendant) was charged with murder. During trial, Wharton presented the theory that the killing was provoked by a weeks-long period of conduct related to his ongoing dysfunctional relationship with the victim. Wharton requested a jury instruction that explicitly stated that provocation could occur over a considerable period of time and that the jury must take such period of time into account when deciding if there was a sufficient cooling period for the passion to subside. The trial court refused to provide this instruction and instead gave the standard California Jury Instructions –Criminal (CALJIC) instructions on voluntary manslaughter. These standard instructions included definitions of heat of passion, provocation, and the cooling period. Wharton was convicted by the jury and appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lucas, C.J.)

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