Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 19,800+ case briefs...

Sandstrom v. Montana

United States Supreme Court
442 U.S. 510 (1979)


David Sandstrom (defendant) was tried for the “deliberate homicide” of Annie Jessen. An element of the offense required that Sandstrom acted “purposely or knowingly.” Sandstrom, who had confessed to killing Jessen, did not deny the killing but asserted that he was guilty of a lesser offense than deliberate homicide because he did not act “purposely or knowingly” since he suffered from a personality disorder that had been aggravated by alcohol consumption. At trial, the government asked the court to instruct the jury that “the law presumes that a person intends the ordinary consequences of his voluntary acts.” The court agreed to give the instruction over defense counsel’s objection. Sandstrom was convicted of deliberate homicide and appealed his conviction to the Montana Supreme Court. The Montana Supreme Court held that the jury instruction shifted some of the burden to Sandstrom, but affirmed the conviction on the ground that “allocation of some burden of proof to a defendant under certain circumstances” was appropriate. Sandstrom appealed to the United States Supreme Court. On appeal, the government asserted that the jury instruction did not violate Due Process because it was a permissive presumption, or alternatively, it merely shifted the burden of production to Sandstrom to present some evidence that he did not act “purposely or knowingly,” but did not shift the burden of persuasion and therefore did not violate Due Process.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

Concurrence (Rehnquist, C.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 511,000 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 511,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 19,800 briefs, keyed to 985 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