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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
People v. Serravo
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- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
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- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
At the time of this case, § 16-8-101, 8A of the Colorado Statutes defined a legally insane person as one who was “incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong.” Serravo (Defendant) stabbed his wife while she was sleeping, wounding but not killing her. When she woke up, Defendant explained that she had been attacked by an intruder, and he repeated this explanation to the police. Several weeks later, however, his wife found letters written by Defendant admitting that he had stabbed her. When she confronted him, Defendant confirmed his guilt and stated that he had been told by God to end the marriage by killing her. Defendant was charged with attempted first degree murder, first degree assault, and the commission of a violent crime. After Defendant pled not guilty by reason of insanity, a trial was held on the issue of legal insanity. At the trial, Defendant offered expert testimony by four psychiatrists and a psychologist indicating that he was under the delusion that God was directly communicating with him and that he believed the stabbing was justified. The trial court refused a request by the State to instruct the jury that Defendant was not insane if he knew that the stabbing was an unlawful act. Instead the court’s instruction stated that, even if he knew the stabbing was unlawful, Defendant was insane if he believed that it was morally right. The jury found that Defendant was legally insane, and the State appealed the court’s instruction to the court of appeals. The appellate court affirmed the judge’s instruction, holding that the word “wrong” in § 16-8-101 referred to moral rather than legal wrong, that as a general rule the morality of the defendant’s act must be judged by an objective rather than a subjective standard, but that a subjective standard is appropriate when the defendant believes he is acting under instructions from God. The Supreme Court of Colorado granted certiorari.
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- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
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