Quimbee logo with url
From our private database of 14,500+ case briefs...

United States v. Alexander

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
471 F.2d 923 (1972)


Ellsworth Kramer and four other Marine lieutenants (lieutenants) entered a local hamburger shop. Gordon Alexander and Benjamin Murdock (defendant) were already in the shop. Kramer and Alexander engaged in a staring match that escalated into Kramer referring to Alexander as a “nigger,” “black bastard,” and “dirty nigger bastard.” Alexander and Murdock both pulled revolvers on the lieutenants. Shots were fired, resulting in the deaths of two of the lieutenants. Murdock was charged with second-degree murder and assault. Murdock’s trial was bifurcated. During the insanity portion of his trial, Murdock presented a psychiatrist who testified about Murdock’s social background and detailed Murdock’s psychopathic traits and emotional difficulties that were linked to his feelings of racial oppression. The psychiatrist opined that when Murdock was denigrated with racially charged language, he likely felt an irresistible urge to lash out at those he viewed as his oppressors. The district court instructed the jury on how the evidence could be used to consider whether or not Murdock suffered from a mental disease or defect. Through a special instruction, the district court cautioned the jury to only consider this evidence to determine whether Murdock had a mental condition that would affect the level of his criminal responsibility. Murdock was convicted. Murdock appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McGowan, J.)

Dissent (Bazelon, 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 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.

  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 269,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,500 briefs, keyed to 195 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.